Evidence of the path of modern man from Africa, which took place 100,000 years ago, has been discovered in Israel. Archaeological excavations near Dimona, a city in the Negev, uncovered a site for carving flint tools, from the Middle Paleolithic period, a prehistoric period that existed from 250,000 BCE – 50,000 BCE. The findings lend evidence to the theory that modern humans migrated from Africa to the rest of the world via the Middle East. This is the first such evidence that has been found in Israel.

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Those who helped excavate the special site from the Stone Age were teenagers from the city of Dimona, who took summer jobs on the archaeological site during the challenging period of the Corona, when other typical summer jobs were not available due to social distancing.

Teenagers from the city of Dimona, excavating (Photograph: Amil Aljem)

Flint stones were used as tools by modern man; shaped through a process known as flint-knapping. According to the Antiquities Authority, the shaping of the flint tools found at the site was done through a process called  "Nubian Levallois", and this technology, which originated in Africa, is used by scholars and prehistorians as evidence of the track of modern human migration from Africa to the rest of the world, which began 100,000 years ago. The excavations took place at a site where the largest solar field in Israel is to be built, and were funded by the Israel Electric Corporation. Work went forward this summer despite restrictions due to COVID-19.

Mia Oron of the Israel Antiquities Authority (Photograph: Amil Aljem)

"This is the first evidence of Nubian flint technology in an archeological excavation in Israel," said prehistorians Talia Abulfiya and Mia Oron of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who conducted the excavation at the site. "Byproducts of the tools’ creation remain exactly where people sat and created them. This technology is identified with modern human populations who lived in East Africa 150 to 100,000 years ago and from there spread out around the world. In the last decade quite a few Nubian sites have been discovered in the Arabian Peninsula. These discoveries have led many researchers to claim that modern man's departure from Africa must have taken place through the Arabian Peninsula. The site near Dimona would seem to represent the northernmost penetration of said Nubian flint technology, thus marking the migration route: from Africa to Saudi Arabia and from there, perhaps, to the Negev Desert in Israel."

Flint tools found (Photograph: Amil Aljem)

"The teens from Dimona took advantage of the summer vacation to work at the site, and some even helped their families get through a difficult financial situation by doing so," said Svetlana Talis, an archaeologist from the northern Negev district of the Israel Antiquities Authority. "They helped uncover a particularly important site, as part of a project promoted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in recent years, which seeks to bring the youth closer to the heritage that belongs to them."