Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paleoanthropology in the Middle-East

One of the things that bother me the most when I am reading about paleoanthropolgy is the fact that there aren't many human remains that were found in the Middle-East (ME). It is not that ancient humans did not live in the ME, this area was, and remains, one of the most prosperous in the world. But it is just that we don't value our heritage enough.
Two Neandertalensis remains have been found in Israel for example, that's like one third of all the remains that were found throughout the region! I am sure that Israel was not more populated ten thousand years ago than Lebanon or Syria were.
One thing I remember from my childhood is a story about some human remains that were dated at approximately 10 000 years. They were said to be found in a cave in the region of Jbeil.
According to my dad, when the remains were found the entrepreneur realized that the Ministry of Tourism would force him to halt the work. So he ordered the whole cave to be destroyed during the night. When the Ministry's inspector arrived the next morning, they found nothing to examine. The remains were forgotten and that was that.
How true this story is, I can never know. It has been so long since it happened and no body cared enough to document it. But I wouldn't be surprised, it sounds very plausible.
Another example, that is far more tangible and documented is DownTown Beirut. Yes tourists are very pleased, especially those coming from other Middle Eastern countries, the nightlife is great and everything. But at closer inspection you'll notice that DownTown Beirut is built around the old remains.
Get even closer and you will see something like this:
Roman ruins downtown Beirut by Rinatuch

Yes, there are TREES growing amidst the Romain ruins, this picture doesn't exactly show it but there is also a disgusting amount of touristic garbage everywhere.
People here tend to see ancient ruins like great dumping spaces. Seeing this makes me understand a bit more why we still haven't found any stone age human forms in Lebanon for example. We just don't appreciate their value!

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