June 2018

Herpetological Collection Manager Dr. Boaz Shacham leads, with PhD candidate Roy Talbi (Haifa University), a study showing that the venomous snake Palestine viper (Daboia palaestinae), has a tenfold higher presence in habitats linked to humans (for example, agricultural fields and urban edges) compared to natural habitats. A short article appeared in the Hebrew edition of National Geographic Magazine (June 2018), by Adi Weinberger.



May, 2018

Herpetological Collection Manager Dr. Boaz Shacham, explains on Channel 10 program “London & Kirshenbaum” the damages afflicted on the ecosystem by the recent wildfires in the southern coastal plain, caused by terrorist activity (“fire kites”)


May, 2018
A Symbolic Marker of a Prehistoric Society from 34,000 Years Ago
The earliest stages of the human story already included well-differentiated cultural entities, each with its own unique characteristics. Prehistoric research, similarly to historic research, studies the nature of these entities, their geographical dispersion, interrelationships and mutual influences. Most cultural characteristics found in prehistoric research are based on imperishable materials, such as stone and bone, although we are convinced that the material culture of these different groups had included also perishable, organic goods (made of plant matter, skin and bark). This paper deals with one of the cultural entities of the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria): the Levantine Aurignacian, which had existed for a relatively short period in time (between 38,000-35,000 year ago). Its dispersion had been limited to the Mediterranean climate zone, and it is known solely from cave assemblages (e.g., El-Wad and Kabara caves in the Carmel, Manot cave in the Galilee, Ksar Akil on the Lebanese coast). In several sites, its appearance in our region truncates the sequence of local cultures, some of which continued to exist in parallel, and is replaced by their successors. Its cultural remains (tools made of stone, bone and antler) are very similar to these of the European Aurignacian entity, which had existed in western and central Europe, starting earlier and ending later than the Levantine Aurignacian. Therefore, it is assumed that the Levantine Aurignacians had arrived from Europe, had survived for a (relatively) short time and then had disappeared or had merged into the local entities.
Studies of the bone tools of the Levantine Aurignacian from Hayonim Cave in the western Galilee pointed out another cultural marker of this entity –scapulae (shoulder bones) of gazelle, shaped in a specific way and incised in a particular area of the bone (see image). This object could hardly have had a practical use (hunting, food preparation, skin processing, etc.). It is likely that this is a particular object of the local Aurignacian culture, possibly a marker of a group, worn attached to an item of clothing or as a pendant, differentiating the bearer from other cultural entities of that time in the Levant.
This research was lead by Dr. Tejero (France), in cooperation with Profs. Belfer-Cohen and Rabinovich from the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, Prof. Bar-Yosef (emeritus, Harvard University) and Dr. Gutkin from the Hebrew University center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.