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Israeli study shows early humans migrated from Europe to the Levant 40,000 years ago

A study by Israeli researchers has found that early humans migrated from Europe to the Levant some 40,000 years ago, strengthening the theory that the decline of the Neanderthals was not brought on by human immigration to Europe.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University found six human teeth in Manot cave in northern Israel, and using modern dental analysis, were able to confirm that early humans called Aurignacians were a combination of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

Aurignacians were culturally sophisticated, and are known for producing tools, jewelry and other artifacts out of bone.

A view to Manot cave with a mark of the area where some of the 40,000-year-old teeth were found. (Prof. Israel Hershkovitz)

Researchers long believed that the arrival of modern humans in Europe led to the extinction of Neanderthals. However, genetic testing done in recent years has indicated that the archaic humans who lived in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ago simply assimilated into the new human population.

The six  human teeth found in northern Israel bolsters that theory, a TAU statement says.

“To date, we have not found any human remains from this period in Israel,” said TAU professor Israel Hershkowitz in the statement. “So the group remains a mystery. This groundbreaking study brings for the first time the story of the population responsible for some of the world’s most important cultural contributions.”

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