Neanderthals, our late Middle Paleolithic ancestors who roamed the world between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago, have long been considered been considered mere cave-dwellers, not a particularly adaptable or complex group that died out for reasons unknown.
But recent findings from an Israeli-led archaeological team has newly reignited debates over our forerunners.
The study took place in Ein Qashish, in close proximity to the Kishon River. Following an extensive dig, researches found substantial evidence to suggest that Neanderthals in the Middle East lived in open-air sites as well as caves.
This would challenge the notion of the Neanderthals as inflexible and unable to adapt to “diverse topographic and ecological contexts,” according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The findings also throw a wrench into a popular hypothesis for the disappearance of the Neanderthals. Though “traditional explanations hypothesize that Neanderthals in the Near East were unable to adapt to an increasingly dry climate,” according to the IAA, that they were found to be living in open-air areas would dispute that.
The findings were published in Nature Scientific Reports.