The Caves at Nahal Me’arot

There are certain moments when upon arriving at a particular site or landscape for the first time, our senses are overcome with an uncanny connection to our distant past.

There was a certain familiar aura in the features of the Mt. Carmel range of northwestern Israel – with its steep rocky cliffs pointed towards the Mediterranean, and the golden tint of the rock faces colored by the green of the surrounding vegetation. I felt a strong sense that with its geology and close proximity to water, this landscape offered a dynamic environment for human life. I felt an instinctive connection to an ancient memory here – that this was an attractive area for human life and perhaps even earlier hominid species going back hundreds of thousands of years.

Traveling south of the major port city of Haifa by public bus down route 4, I am fixed between the two visible earthly features. To the east – the Mt. Carmel range, and to the west – the Mediterranean Sea. This montage of sea and land heightens my senses and staring out the bus window towards the irregularly shaped faces of the rock, my imagination is filled by the wildness of such natural and expressive ‘sculptures’, seemingly carved by that amazing molecule called water (more about this later).

In Israel there are bus stops scattered along major routes and highways. To get to the caves I was dropped off about 200 meters from the nature reserve entrance along highway route 4. Hiking along the highway following the narrow shoulder while occasionally staring towards the rock faces, large trucks speed past me creating momentary gusts of air, continually reminding me of the common discrepancy between the articulations of nature and the articulations of man.

Arriving in the morning, I am the first and the only visitor to see the cultural remains of prehistoric man. A cliff cut into fossil reef and a series of caves created through the dissolution of limestone. The site is visual evidence of a once higher sea, with the water covering much of the land that I now stood.


The cliff opposite me is a fossil reef which formed some 100 million years from the skeletons of marine organisms. It is easy to see the effects of the water with such a jagged landscape.

(To be continued)…

© 2018 Aaron Zomback