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Letters to Nature
Nature 330, 159 - 160 (18 November 1987); doi:10.1038/330159a0

Thermoluminescence dates for the Neanderthal burial site at Kebara in Israel

H. Valladas*, J. L. Joron, G. Valladas*, B. Arensburg, O. Bar-Yosef§, A. Belfer-Cohen§, P. Goldberg§, H. Laville, L. Meignen, Y. Rak, E. Tchernov£, A. M. Tillier** & B. Vandermeersch**

*Centre des Faibles Radioactivités, Laboratoire Mixte CNRS-CEA,Avenue de la Terrasse, 91190 Gif sur Yvette, France
Groupe des Sciences de la Terre, Laboratoire Pierre Süe, CEN, Saclay, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France
Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel
§Institute of Archaeology, Mont Scopus, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91905, Israel
Institut du Quaternaire, Université de Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence, France
Centre de Recherches Archeologiques, Sophia Antipolis, 06565 Valbonne, France
£Department of Zoology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
**Laboratoire d'Anthropologie, Université de Bordeaux 1, UA376 du CNRS, 33405 Talence, France

The origins of modern man are a subject of controversy among palaeoanthropologists concerned with human evolution1–3. Particularly heavily debated is the dating of hominid remains uncovered in southwestern Asia, because middle palaeolithic sites have provided skeletal remains classified as representing Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis at Tabun, Amud, Kebara and Shanidar caves) and proto-Cro-Magnons (Homo sapiens sapiens at Skhul and Qafzeh caves). This situation differs considerably from that of Western Europe, where only Neanderthal remains are known from archaeological deposits of this period, or that of the African continent, where no Neanderthal remains have so far been found. Two opposing hypotheses have been offered to explain the relations between Neanderthals and the earliest modern Homo sapiens: first that modern Homo sapiens appeared very early in the Mediterranean Levant and coexisted with a population of Neanderthals who had arrived at a later date; and second that modern humans developed from the local Neanderthal population in southwestern Asia. Recent excavations at the Kebara cave yielded Neanderthal burial in a well-documented stratigraphic and cultural Mousterian sequence4,5. We now report that ther-moluminescence dates from 38 specimens of burnt flint recovered from 4 m of Kebara deposits range from about 60,000 to 48,000 years before present (BP), indicating that Neanderthals were present in the Levant in the latter part of the middle Palaeolithic.

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References

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