|Nahal Me'arot caves, Israel|
At the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee, which began this week and runs through July 6 in St. Petersburg, committee members are expected to vote on nominations to the World Heritage List this Friday and Saturday.
The four Mount Carmel caves clustered along the southern side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi El-Mughara Valley – Tabu, Jamal, El-Wad and Skhul – as well as their terraces, received nominations based on three criteria in two separate categories, “natural” and “cultural.” The sites are “located in one of the best preserved fossilized reefs of the Mediterranean region” and contain cultural deposits filled with 500,000 years of human evolution, from the Lower Paleolithic era to the present day, said a summary document that the World Heritage Committee printed in May.
The Nahal Me’arot caves provide “a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development,” according to the summary document. Archeological evidence found in the region indicates the appearance of modern humans who conducted deliberate burials and who were exploring early stone architecture, as well as transitioning from hunting and gathering to agricultural processes.
The caves feature excavated artifacts and skeletal material, remains of stone houses and pits – all “evidence of the Natufian hamlet,” the document said.