Jerusalem – A 12,000-year-old skeleton of a shaman was discovered in the Hilazon Cave in the Galilee in an archaeological dig being conducted by archaeologists from the Hebrew University.

The archaeologists found beside the skeleton the remains of 50 turtles, a leopard and a human foot. 

Hebrew University archaeologists found in the Hilazon Cave in the 
Galilee a 12,000-year-old skeleton of a woman who apparently engaged in spiritual-religious activity.

Alongside of the skeleton, the tomb contained a number of unusual gifts: fifty turtle shells, the hipbone of a leopard and a human foot. The shaman’s tomb that was discovered in northern Israel is the most ancient such tomb and the only one to be linked to shamanism in the entire Middle East. 

An examination of the woman’s bones found that she was approximately 45 years old. Her bones show that she suffered from several congenital physical ailments and from aging, causing her to suffer from pain. An examination of the skeleton also found that the woman appeared to be distorted in shape and that she probably had a limp. The woman was not more than a meter and a half tall.

The archaeologists, Dr. Abraham Grossman and Professor Anna Baler-Cohen from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, suggest that the uniqueness of the burial and the efforts that were invested in designing the tomb demonstrate that this was the tomb of a shaman who had very high and special status in her community.

The shaman’s role was to mediate between spiritual entities and either the individual or the entire community. Shamans also served in that period as emissaries, healers and magicians.

In many cases, shamans were buried along with objects that attested to their spiritual powers, mainly their connection to entities 
 from the animal kingdom whose help they sought. 

The tomb was filed with unique items, the likes of which were not 
found in other tombs from the same era. In addition to the 50 turtle shells, the leopard’s hip and the human foot, the archaeologists also found the bones of a wild boar, the tail of a wild cow and bones from an eagle’s wing. The woman’s body was covered with the tip of the eagle’s resplendent wing. 

The Natufian culture, to which this woman apparently belonged, existed at a time that human society began to establish permanent places of residence and to produce their own food. This woman was the first to have been buried in the cave. After her, at least another 27 people were buried on the site. 


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.