Flint point from the ancient site of Boker Tachtit where early humans lived together with neantherdals. Credit: (Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Two Mystery Human Species Lived Together 50,000-Years Ago in Israel–10 Reasons Why This is Important

Unexpectedly, humans coexisted with Neanderthals when they first came from Africa.

Archaeologists obtained new dates for the Boker-Takhtit Paleolithic site in the Negev desert in Israel and compared them with the stratigraphy of the finds. The data obtained indicate that the first humans from Africa came to the Levant 50,000 years ago and for some time coexisted and interacted with the Neanderthals who lived here.


Finds of tools belonging to different Paleolithic industries, their chronology, and stratigraphy are important for documenting the history and ways of human settlement.

For the time of the transition from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic, stone and bone tools are the main marker of the replacement of the Neanderthals by the ancestors of modern people – the Sapiens.

In this context, the Boker-Tachtit site is a very valuable archaeological site, since it has undisturbed stratigraphic layers with Middle and Upper Paleolithic finds, overlain by sterile sedimentary rocks. This allows us to trace the evolution of stone processing technology and find out the chronology of the life of human populations.

Layer of flint tools from the Early Upper Paleolithic. This is what archaeologists typically find in ancient sites. Credit: Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto, Weizmann Institute of Science
A layer of flint tools from the Early Upper Paleolithic. This is what archaeologists typically find in ancient sites. Credit: Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto, Weizmann Institute of Science

Everything you need to know about how humans and Neanderthals lived together

1. Previous researchers, at the time, were able to date only a few coal samples from Boker Tachtit due to the limitations of the old methods of radiocarbon dating.

2. These dates do not agree with the materials of modern studies of monuments associated with the appearance of Homo Sapiens in the Middle East and its subsequent history. The site is located in the basin of the Wadi Zin stream in the central region of the Negev Desert in the Ein Avdat National Park.

3. Israeli and German archaeologists, led by Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute, have looked to the 40-year-old Boker Tachtit site in the Negev to refine the site’s chronology using updated dating methods.

The different stratigraphic layers of the Boker-Takhtit site where humans and Neanderthals lived together. Credit: Boaretto et al. / PNAS, 2021
The different stratigraphic layers of the Boker-Takhtit site where humans and Neanderthals lived together. Credit: Boaretto et al. / PNAS, 2021

4. Scientists were able to date the transition from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic at the site and find arguments for the coexistence of Sapiens and Neanderthals during this period in the Eastern Mediterranean.

5. The study was carried out using the methods of accelerator mass spectrometry in a specialized laboratory of the Weizmann Institute.

6. This method of radiocarbon analysis significantly improves the old C-14 dates. In parallel, another dating method was used – using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) of quartz and feldspar grains from sedimentary rocks.

7. Microscopic studies of the deposits and the new Boker Tachtit dating scheme have shown that the early Upper Paleolithic layers associated with Homo sapiens intersect with the Middle Paleolithic culture left in this region by the Neanderthals.

Archaeologists working on the different ancient layers. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority / Facebook

8. The change in the stone industry, with which it is customary to associate the change in population, took place in a short period of 50,000–44,000 years ago.

9. Scientists see this as evidence of the simultaneous existence, cultural interaction, and genetic interbreeding of Sapiens and Neanderthals in the Levant.

10. The Boker Tachtit site is now considered the very first place in the Levant where modern humans from Africa came and apparently, for some time, they co-existed with Neanderthals.


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Sources:

Boaretto, E., Hernandez, M., Goder-Goldberger, M., Aldeias, V., Regev, L., Caracuta, V., McPherron, S. P., Hublin, J.-J., Weiner, S., & Barzilai, O. (2021, June 22). The absolute chronology of Boker Tachtit (Israel) and implications for the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Levant. PNAS.
Borschel-Dan, A., Berman, L., Zeller, M. J. and F., Williams, S., Gross, J. A., staff, T. O. I., Jeffay, N., Reinherz, A., Boxerman, A., Shalev, A., Gera, V., Ap, Frazer, J., Horovitz, D., Solomon, S., Afp, Kampeas, R., Italie, H., Berman, L., … Agencies, T. O. I. staff and. (2021, June 14). Prehistoric man lived with and loved Neanderthals in the Negev 50,000 years ago. The Times of Israel.
Ciaccia , C. (2021, June 16). Prehistoric man lived alongside Neanderthals in Israel’s Negev Desert 50,000 years ago. Daily Mail Online.
O’Neill, M. (2021, June 15). Neanderthal and Early Modern Human Culture Co-existed Alongside Older Traditions for Over 100,000 Years. SciTechDaily.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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