Cave of Petralona

Interbalkan Medical Centre
21 March 2016
16 June 2016
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Cave of Petralona

The bejewelled with stalagmites and stalactites Petralona Cave is formed about 300 m above sea level. The Cave was spotted in 1959 by the inhabitant of the Petralona village Philippos Chatzaridis from an ovoid (0,7 m long)  diaklasis (fracture) of the limestone Kalavros Mountain (~ 700 m high), which is created in Jurassic era (~150 million years) by undersea sediments that emerged in various phases during next periods. Most probably during Mio-Pleiocene, about 5 million years ago, the Cave’s main compartments were formed. Internationally it became known when the famous fossilized skull of Petralona man was found by another villager, Christos Sariannidis, along with five other men (three of whom scientists).

The systematic excavations of the Cave started in 1965 by the founder of the Anthropological Association of Greece Ph.D. professor of anthropology Aris N. Poulianos. His research proved that Petralona Archanthropus (i.e. an archaic Homo sapiens) has an age of about 700.000 years ago, that is the oldest known Europeoid man. This chronology is based on the detail analysis of the Cave stratigraphy (until today 34 geological layers have been unearthed), as well as on the study of the Palaeolithic tools and the Palaeofauna species that have been discovered in almost all layers. Among the fossils of the extinct species found in the Cave lions, hyenas, bears, panthers, elephants, rhinos, megacerines, bisons, and various species of dears and equids (horse like) are included, as well as 25 species of birds, 16 species of rodents and 17 species of bats.

A considerable aid in reconfirming the age of the Petralona Archanthropus is the contribution of Archaeometry (with methods advanced by Nuclear Physics). The materials used for such a purpose are bones, argil, stalagmites and traces of fire (ashes, burned bones) – the earliest ever lightened by human hands on earth (~800.000 years ago).

Thousands of fossils and other findings are deposited in the adjacent to the Cave Anthropological Museum, many of which you may visit here in a separate virtual web sight-seeing.