Thanks to the help of Prof. Takeru Akazawa of Tokyo University Museum, from the 12th to the 25th of September in 1996, we could have a chance to join the Japan-Syria joint expedtion team and to visit several archeological sites of paleolithic periods in Syria. Syria is located at the north end of the Dead Sea Rift and is the location known as a transit zone for the spread of humamity which is supposed to be originally born in the Great Rift Valley of the East Africa. We took more than 100 panoramic movies during our stay in Syria. This is the QTVR panoramic movie report from the north end of Dead Sea Rift Valley.
The first destination was Afrin area located 350km north from Damascus, 50km north west from Aleppo. Afrin area is a part of Dead Sea Rift Valley and hundreds of paleolothic ruins are found in this area. The Japan-Syria expedition team has been working here since 1987 and in the summer of 1993, in a giant lime-stone cave in the middle slope of Wadi Dederiyeh, they finally discovered a set of infant skeletons which can be considered to be that of Neanderthal's. We stayed for 4 nights at a cottage of the expedition team located a little out of a small kurdish town called Aindara and walked around the valleys around the Dederiyeh Cave to catch something fresh from those environments.
The second destination was the Douara Cave located near the Palmyra ruins in the middle of Syrian desert. The Douara Cave is the site where the Japan-Syria expedition team was working untill 1986 before they moved to Afrin area. Many paleolithic remains such as fossils of animal borns and stone tools were found in this cave, but they never got a chance to find human borns. Prof.Akazawa was saying like even today, when visiting there, we would be able to find many remains left around the cave and some big ruins of stone-tool factories in a basin behind the Douara Cave. We stayed in Palmyra for 4 nights and visited a couple of archeological sites such as Douara Cave, Jerf Ajla Cave, El-Kowm and Palmyra ruins.
To drive up to Palmyra from Afrin, we took a route which runs through another rift valley called Al-Ghab. This area continued from Afrin is known as a Dead Cities Zone and we could visit several ancient ruins such as Qalaat Samaan ( the Basilica of St.Simeon ) of the 5th centry, Qal at al Madiq (Arabic Castle), Thousand Columns of Bizaintine city. We are now preparing all these movies shot on this route as well to put in this web-site.
Takeo Fukazawa, 1997