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Wadi El- Mugharah

MUGHARAH, WADI EL- wä dĭ ĕl mŏŏ gär’ ə (meaning in Arab. valley of caves). A valley S of Mt. Carmel where Stone Age remains were found.

Between 1929 and 1934 an archeological expedition under the leadership of Dorothy Garrod and Theodore McCown of the British School of Archaeology excavated four caves in the Wadi el-Mugharah. About two m. in from the Mediterranean Sea on the S side of the valley three of these four caves produced extensive artifacts and skeletal remains of several Stone Age cultures. The oldest things were from the Early Paleolithic Period and the most recent from the Mesolithic. A subdivision of the later known as the Natufian Period (so named from the nearby Wadi en-Natuf which Garrod also discovered) was also well represented. The subdivision has been redivided on the basis of the things found at the Mugharah caves.

The Natufian people did not make pottery or domesticate animals but raised crops and hunted, for most of their artifacts were flint arrowheads, spearheads, knives, and scrapers. In common with other previous cultures, they left their dead unburied in a contracted position, as evidenced from the skeletons in the es-Skhul and el-Wad caves. These skeletons resembled those of the Homo sapiens of the Upper Paleolithic Period more than the Neanderthal.

The cave of el-Wad represents in its several strata a transition period between the Mousterian and the Upper Paleolithic. These judgments are based on the shape of the flint tools and bone objects found there.

In the cave called el-Tabun, some of the earliest artifacts of all appeared in the form of crude scrapers and untoothed knives. Neither Wadi el-Mugharah nor any of its caves are mentioned in the Bible.


D. A. E. Garrod and D. M. A. Bate, The Stone Age of Mount Carmel, I (1937); T. D. McCown and A. Keith, The Stone Age of Mount Carmel, II (1939); E. Anati, Palestine Before the Hebrews (1963), Parts 2 and 3.