The First Humans in the Land of Israel

In 2018, a pair of Israeli scientists published the results of their excavation of the Misliya cave at Mount Carmel, where they had found a skull belonging to a human who lived between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. The discovery suggested that Homo sapiens not only developed earlier than generally assumed, but also left Africa sooner. In their subsequent research into other fossils found in the same cave, the scientists have concluded that these humans arrived during the Ice Age. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

According to a new study, . . . the discovery of fossils from rodents that are only adapted to cold environments—which were found in the same archaeological assemblage as the earliest known record of Homo sapiens outside of Africa—proves that those early modern humans arrived during an Ice Age and yet were able to thrive after leaving the cradle of humankind despite the drastically cooler temperatures.

The study’s authors say the analysis contradicts the [widely accepted] theory that the Ice Age delayed human migration between continents. This first sign of human adaptability displays the characteristics that would eventually lead to our species’ world domination, said the scientists.

The region is rife with indications of paleolithic settlement . . . and during ten years of excavations, along with the jawbone, the team uncovered some 60,000 flint tools, which span the human history of development from chunky primitive hand axes to purposefully knapped, lightweight, technologically advanced projectiles, and thin knives.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Land of Israel, Science

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy