Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve (official site) is located at Hof Hacarmel not far from Haifa. It is a world heritage site due to the importance of archeological findings, and today we are going to visit it. Let’s begin!

Map of the area:

We parked next to Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, and there was this map:Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

As you can see, there are many trails in this area. But since it was still too hot, we did not plan to take a long path.

View toward Carmel and the caves from the car parking. Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

World Heritage Site

As I mentioned before, Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve is a world heritage site.

The prehistoric site in the Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve was inscribed by UNESCO in 2012 as a “World Heritage Site with outstanding universal value for the study of human evolution.
It is home to a group of prehistoric caves in which humans lived for some 500,000 years. Such long-term habitation of the same caves is very rare anywhere in the world.

Note: all quotes were taken from the official site unless stated otherwise.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

The “Prehistoric Man” Trail At Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve

As I mentioned, since it was quite hot we decided not to take a long trail, and we decided to go with the “Prehistoric Man” Trail. This round route visits most of the caves on site.

As we entered inside, we started climbing the stairs.

Note, there is also a wheelchair accessible trail that leads to the last and the most impressive cave.

And on our way saw this sign explaining about sea level.
Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Though today this is a dry land spot, it was covered by water until 1-2 million of years ago. The cliff in the photo is a fossil reef which formed 100 million years ago from skeletons of marine organisms. The caves were created through limestone dissolution. The uplift of the Carmel caused the caves to become exposed.

Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

View from the stairs. The round building is the entrance, which also serves as a store in this nature reserve.
Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Hello!Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

The Oven Cave

This cave is named for the opening in its ceiling.

The first excavations in this cave were conducted in 1927, headed by Dorothy Garrod. A team from Haifa University is currently excavating the cave, and they have reached a depth of about 20 meters.

Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Explanations on site:Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Archeological excavations in this cave exposed a sequence which is one of the oldest and longest known. Beginning some one million years ago and continuing to about 40,000 years ago. During this period the cave was occupied by people of three different prehistoric cultures. Each of these cultures defined by appropriate stone tools and it is possible to follow improvements in technology through the sequence.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
After a short walk, we reached the second cave.
Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Camel Cave

Camel cave named after its hump shape and in the cave, you can see how ancient people lived.

The activity in this cave may have included the processing of raw materials. The cave contains displays showing human life styles in the various prehistoric periods.

Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
People from The Mousterian culture lived in this cave (100,000 – 40,000 years ago). They were hunter-gatherers, and the photo above shows what their lives probably looked like.

The Stream Cave

The next cave along the route is the biggest one on site.

The Stream Cave, consists of an extensive entrance hall, at the end of which there is a 70-meter long corridor. In front of the cave there is a broad rocky platform. The main findings in this cave are those of the Aurignacian culture (40,000 to 20,000 years ago). The cave was abandoned a few thousand years ago, and when humans returned there, they lived mainly in the entrance hall and on the rock platform in front of the cave (Natufian culture, 12,000-10,000 years before our time).

The entrance to the Stream Cave:Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
Every round hour there is a short movie in the back of this cave showing the lifestyle of the prehistoric man.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
The wheelchair accessible trail I mentioned at the beginning of this post leads towards and inside of this cave.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
Watching the movie.
Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
The movie is not graphical, but there is a scene where a wild animal attacks a human and in the next shot prehistoric people are burying their friend. That can be frightening to small kids.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
The audio-visual show laster for about fifteen minutes. And then we headed outside.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, IsraelNahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
At the entrance to the Stream Cave, you can find this sign. If you look closely at the walls, then you will be able to recognize conical shells.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Close to the entrance of this cave, there is a reconstruction of a Natufian burial site.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

The “Prehistoric Man” Trail ends after visiting those three caves. At this point, it leads back to the entrance.
Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Cactus pears:Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
Since we saw following equipment, I guess there is active archeological work on site.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
We followed “Prehistoric Man” Trail almost to the entrance, but at this point, we made a small detour. As I mentioned, since it was a hot day we did not want to make the longer trails. Therefore at the entrance, I asked the guide whether we can see something more nearby. She pointed out there is another new excavation site closeby. We followed the blue trail along the dried stream into the mountains.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel

Gdi Cave

After about seven minute walk we saw an archeological site to the right on the slope of Carmel mountain.

In front of the Gdi cave, we saw an active archeological site. That is a Mousterian cemetery. It contained skeletons of ten individuals (men, woman, and children).

The skeletons belong to early Homo sapiens type, the people that lived 90,000 years ago in this area.Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
And this is the Gdi Cave:Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve, Israel
From the fourth and the last cave we headed back towards the exit from Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve. The whole visit took us about two hours, which is more than enough in hot weather.

Summary

Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve presents essential archeological findings. But if you are visiting with kids or you are not archeology lover, then I would suggest visiting this Nature Reserve when additional activities take place on site (and there are such from time to time). A guide will make the visit much more enjoyable.

If you think the caves will protect you from the sun, then think again. As you saw most of the time, we were outside. Thus, do not visit during the hot hours and wear sunscreen. The additional bonus of an early visit is making one of the trails in the area or touring nearby attractions (see map at the top of this post).

Have you ever visited Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve? How was your experience? Tell us in the comments below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

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