Human remains said to be over 400,000 years old have been unearthed in Israel. This amazing discovery raises questions about conventional evolutionary theory that the Homo sapiens species originated in Africa.
Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology, told news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) that eight teeth were discovered in a case east of Tel Aviv. After painstaking tests conducted on stalagmites, stalactites and other material found there, the archaeologists came to the conclusion that these could be the earliest traces so far of the human species.
Though the first teeth were discovered in 2006, the archaeologists waited till they had a sufficient set of samples. This followed years of testing using a variety of dating methods, before publishing their findings.
He told the agency:
"Our cave was used for a period of about 250,000 years -- from about 400,000 years ago to about 200,000 years ago. The teeth are scattered through the layers of the cave, some in the deeper part, that is to say from 400,000 years and through all kinds of other layers that can be up to 200,000 years. The oldest are 400,000 years old. "It is accepted at the moment that the earliest Homo sapiens that we know is in east Africa and is 200,000 years old, or a little less. We don't know of anywhere else where anyone claims to have an earlier Homo sapiens."
The Qesem Cave Project is one of the main ones being undertaken by the University. The cave is situated 12 km east of Tel Aviv in a hilly limestone terrain, 90m above sea level. Its ceiling and and part of the deposits were destroyed by road construction in October 2000.
The Homo sapiens as a species were supposed to have originated about 250,000 years ago. It is also believed that the species originated in Africa.
Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University
A Tel Aviv University photo shows the Qesem Cave near Rosh Haayin, in central Israel, where human teeth were found. According to Researchers from Tel Aviv University they have uncovered finds that indicate the existence of modern man (Homo sapiens) in Israel as early as about 400,000 years ago.