The Paleolithic Burials at Qafzeh Cave, Israel


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Human fossils, morphologically recognized as modern, were uncovered and dated at Qafzeh cave (Israel). This classification demonstrated that Mousterian industries of Middle Paleolithic age were made by populations different from those (i.e. Neanderthals) who produced similar technocomplexes in Europe. The Qafzeh excavations (during 1933-1935 and 1965-1979) followed that previously made in Skhul cave (Mt. Carmel). The Skhul and Qafzeh clusters were dated by TL and ESR readings to the time range of ca. 120-90 Ka BP. While the morphological attributes of the Qafzeh human group became well-known through a series of publications, the ensemble of the burials and their contexts were not published in detail. The goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the information collected during the excavations of the human remains at Qafzeh cave with the aim to offer a few possible interpretations concerning the funerary practices. We have primarily employed our field observations gathered during 1965-1977, raising several hypotheses as regards our more recent comments associated with the published literature.

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