The Carmel Caves site, in northern Israel, has been named the newest World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for "providing a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development."
The announcement ceremony, to be held on Tuesday, will be attended by Israel's National Commission for UNESCO Secretary-General Dr. Dalit Atrakchi, and Israel Nature and Parks Authority Chairman Shaul Goldstein.
"The four Mount Carmel caves (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad and Skhul) and their terraces are clustered adjacent to each other along the south side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara valley. The steep-sided valley opening to the coastal plain on the west side of the Carmel range provides the visual setting of a prehistoric habitat," a UNESCO statement said.
"Located in one of the best preserved fossilized reefs of the Mediterranean region, the site contains cultural deposits representing half a million years of human evolution from the Lower Paleolithic to the present," UNESCO said.
"Archaeological evidence covers the appearance of modern humans, deliberate burials, early manifestations of stone architecture and the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture. The attributes carrying Outstanding Universal Value include the four caves, terraces, unexcavated deposits and excavated artifacts and skeletal material; the Nahal Me’arot/ Wadi el-Mughara landscape providing the prehistoric setting of the caves; el-Wad Terrace excavations, and remains of stone houses and pits comprising evidence of the Natufian hamlet."
Goldstein expressed his delight at the decision, saying, "We are excited to inaugurate another Nature and Parks Authority location as a World Heritage Site, which joins nine others in Israel. It is a source of pride for Israel that another of its sites has joined the list and will be preserved as historical testimony for generations to come."
Other World Heritage Sites in Israel are: the Masada fortress; the Old City of Acre; the White City of Tel Aviv; the biblical tels of Megiddo, Hazor and Beersheba; the Incense Route of desert cities in the Negev; and the Bahai temples in Haifa and the Western Galilee.