Dederiyeh Cave

Significance: Excavations at Dederiyeh cave, have provided important information on the prehistory of Syria. The most significant discovery from the cave is a rare, almost complete Neanderthal child’s skeleton, buried within a pit and dating from c.100, 000 BC. In later seasons excavators were able to unearth 3 further Neanderthal skeletons. The clearly intentional burial and the tools found in Dederiyeh mark it as a key-site in the prehistory of the whole Levant.

Although many Neanderthal bones had been discovered already, this was practically the first time that an almost complete child’s skeleton had been found in its original burial state.(2)

Discovery: On August 23, 1993, a joint Japan-Syria excavation team discovered fossilized Paleolithic human remains at the Dederiyeh Cave  The bones found in this massive cave were those of a Neanderthal child, estimated to have been about two years old, who lived in the Middle Palaeolithic era (ca. 200,000 to 40,000 years ago).

Site Plan: The entrance of the cave facing the wadi, for the north, is reached by climbing about 60 m up from the valley floor; after another 10 m there is a mouth of a second entrance, that is the chimney. The present mountainous zone is completely open and very sparsely vegetated. The cave consists of a large chamber of 15m wide and 10m high at the entrance, and about 60m deep and a maximum width of 40m with a vaulted dome reaching of 10m at the back of the cave. A skeleton of Neanderthal infant was found under the chimney of the cave in 1993 (1)

Findings:  The excavations at Dederiyeh cave uncovered a wealth of human remains. Based on the skeletal parts archeologists have estimated the minimum number of individuals as approximately ten. Among these fossils, are the first Dederiyeh child (Dederiyeh 1) of Burial No. 1, and the second Dederiyeh child (Dederiyeh 2) of Burial No. 2. ( Dederiyeh cave are found a lot of fossils of animal borns such as gazelles, deer, wild pigs, wild goat, wild sheep, fox, panthers from almost the same layers where the Neanderthal skeleton was found. According to the recent research, the climate and the lay of the land of this area in the period of Neanderthal is supposed to have no big differences from today or a little drier than today. (1)

References:

  1. Muse Digital Archiving Frontiers2-1, Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Tel:03-3464-6927 Fax:03-3476-2372

  2. The Dederiyeh Neanderthal website | Takeru Akazawa

  3. The Dederiyeh Neanderthal http://www.kochi-tech.ac.jp/akazawa/english/1.html

Location  Afrin Valley northwest of Aleppo some 400 km north of Damascus.