Thursday, 30 July 2015

Research Visit: Archaeology from Skhul Cave, Israel

Dr Ravid Ekshtain studying the collection
© Pitt Rivers Museum
Part of our work in the Collections Department is to provide researchers with access to the collections. In June I met Dr Ravid Ekshtain, from Harvard University in the USA, who spent a week at the Museum researching the archaeological collections from Mugharet-es-Skhul.

This is a cave on Mount Carmel in Israel that was excavated extensively during the 1930s. The finds included what are still thought to be the oldest fossilised human remains discovered outside of Africa. So this continues to be one of the most important archaeological sites for studying the prehistoric human past.

The cave itself was completely excavated and the findings dispersed to a number of museums, including the Pitt Rivers. So the collections in the Museum from those original excavations are really important for any current, or future, research about this site.

Skhul Cave, 1931, the man is thought to be Theodor McCown who directed the excavations at this site.
Taken by Dorothy Garrod and now in the Photo Collections PRM 1998.294.189 © Pitt Rivers Museum

Illustration of flints from Skhul Cave.
 From image in the Photo Collections
PRM 1998.294.451
Pitt Rivers Museum
I always feel privileged to work with such significant collections and to continue to see these being used for research. I really enjoyed meeting Dr Ravid Ekshtain and thought you might also be interested in knowing about her research. She was busy all week analysing the stone tools from Skhul Cave to gain more understanding about the evolution of human behaviour.

You can explore this collection yourself via the Museum online object database. If you enter 'Skhul' under region and then search this will find all 337 objects (museum identification numbers 1931.70.701 through to 1931.70.1037). This material from Skhul Cave is part of the Museum's Dorothy Garrod collection - comprising objects, photographs, and manuscripts.

Keep an eye on this site for other blogs about research on the collections.

Zena McGreevy
Senior Assistant Curator

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