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'Ubeidiya (`Ubaydiyya; Hebrew: עובידיה‎; Arabic: العبيدية‎), some 3 km south of Lake Tiberias, in the Jordan Rift Valley, Israel, is an archaeological site of the Pleistocene, c. 1.5 million years ago, preserving traces of one of the earliest migration of Homo erectus out of Africa, with only the site of Dmanisi in Georgia being older.[1] The site yielded hand axes of the Acheulean type, a hippopotamus' femur bone, and an immensely large pair of horns belonging to a species of extinct bovid.

Tel Ubeidiya
תל עובדיה
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Tel Ubeidiya
RegionJordan Valley, Jordan Rift Valley
Site notes
ArchaeologistsMoshe Stekelis, Georg Haas (paleontologist), Ofer Bar-Yosef, Naama Goren-Inbar; geologists Leo Picard and Nachman Shulman

The site was discovered in 1959 and excavated between 1960 and 1974, mainly by Ofer Bar-Yosef and Naama Goren-Inbar.


'Ubeidiya is located between the village Menahemia and Kibbutz Beit Zera, one kilometer northwest of the kibbutz Beit Zera. The prehistoric remains were found at a site distinct from the archaeological mound (tell) known as Tell 'Ubeidiya, northwest of the tell.

Excavation historyEdit

The prehistoric site was discovered in May 1959 near the tell, south of the Yavniel stream, by a member of Kibbutz Afikim who was preparing the ground for agriculture. Excavations at the site began in 1960, led by Moshe Stekelis, assisted by zoologist Georg Haas, geologists Leo Picard and Nachman Shulman and several archaeology students, including Ofer Bar-Yosef and Naama Goren-Inbar. After Stekelis' death in 1967, Bar-Yosef and Goren-Inbar conducted the excavations.


A reconstruction of Homo erectus (on display at Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Herne, Germany, in a 2006 exhibition)

Prehistoric remains starting from about 1.7 million years[2][failed verification] were discovered in the excavations, within about 60 layers of soil within which were found human bones and remains of ancient animals. These include some of the oldest remains found outside Africa, and more than 10,000 ancient stone tools[verification needed].

The site also features rock surfaces in which the prehistoric man lived during the Pleistocene period. As a result of geologic breakage and foldage activity, the rock surfaces are now inclined at an angle of 70 degrees. It is thought that the area used to feature a pristine lake along which Homo erectus lived after his exodus from Africa. The finds discovered at the site validate this theory. Today, the findings are preserved in the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem.

Large horns from a species of extinct bovid (Israel Museum)

Nearby Tell 'UbeidiyaEdit

On the nearby mound once[when?] stood a walled city which controlled the crossroads of the Jordan Valley and the road linking the Golan Heights to the port of Acre.[dubious ] Ruins of the Palestinian village Al-'Ubaydiyya depopulated in 1948 are still visible on the tell.


  1. ^ Sharon, Gonen (2014). "The Early Prehistory of Western and Central Asia". In Renfrew, Colin; Bahn, Paul (eds.). The Cambridge World Prehistory, Volume 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 1359. ISBN 9781139017831.
  2. ^ Webb, Steve. The First Boat People 2006. page 8, citing Chernov 1987, Shipman 1992, Ganubia et al 1999.
  • Radiometric Dating of the Ubeidiya Formation, Jordan Valley, Israel Nature 242, 186 - 187 (16 March 1973)[1]
  • Evidence for earlier date of 'Ubeidiya, Israel, hominid site Nature 299, 344 - 347 (23 September 1982) [2]

Coordinates: 32°41′20″N 35°33′40″E / 32.68889°N 35.56111°E / 32.68889; 35.56111