The oldest remains found in Syria date from the Palaeolithic era (c.800,000 BCE). On August 23, 1993 a joint Japan-Syria excavation team discovered fossilized Paleolithic human remains at the Dederiyeh Cave some 400 km north of Damascus. The bones found in this massive cave were those of a Neanderthal child, estimated to have been about two years old, who lived in the Middle Palaeolithic era (ca. 200,000 to 40,000 years ago). Although many Neanderthal bones had been discovered already, this was practically the first time that an almost complete child's skeleton had been found in its original burial state.
Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth. Syria is part of the Fertile Crescent, and since approximately 10,000 BCE it was one of centers of Neolithic culture (PPNA) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses of the Mureybet culture. In the early Neolithic period, people used vessels made of stone, gyps and burnt lime. Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidence of early trade relations. The cities of Hamoukar and Emar flourished during the late Neolithic and Bronze Age.