The Mysterious Cave
About the Site
Alepotrypa, which means "foxhole", is an ancient cave discovered in Greece in 1958. The legend of its discovery is that a man was hunting in a village nearby and one of his dogs found the hole and entered the cave. The cave is huge and even has its own lake inside. This impressive creation was naturally formed thousands of years ago and contains a lot of historic discoveries. One archaeologist researching the site said, "If you've ever seen 'The Lord of the Rings', this might make you recall the mines of Moria -- the cave is really that impressive".
After the cave was discovered, Greece saw the cave as a tourist attraction that could help the economy. However, once archaeologists began studying the site they realized how important the discoveries in this cave were and protested against tourism which could damage the site. This is where the issue of world heritage comes in to play: Is it right for archaeologists to determine that this discovery not be open for the public to view? Or are they right in protecting the site and all of its artifacts to contribute to our world knowledge?
What Makes This Excavation Great?
Artifacts that have been discovered since excavations began at this site are tools, pottery, and obsidian, silver, and copper artifacts. These objects date back to the Neolithic Age, which shows just how long ago this cave was used by humans. This time was right before Greece's Age of Heroes, an age in which we do not have much evidence in the form of artifacts.
Researchers say that this huge cavern once housed hundreds of people before it collapsed and killed all of its inhabitants. This provides evidence that it was one of the oldest and most important prehistoric villages in Europe. The complex settlement of this site also suggests that prehistoric Europe might have been more complex than previously believed. The cave was not only used as a place of shelter, but also as a place of burial. These burial sites in the cavern may have contributed to the Greek myth of Hades and the Underworld.
The cave was occupied and abandoned many times during the prehistoric era. This suggests that many different tribes or groups used it for themselves at different times, bringing up the question: Who settled here? There was no such thing as "Greece" in prehistoric times, so does that mean that this site is not a part of Greek history? Or is it just a part of our World Heritage? This question can be applied to many sites that have been discovered. Regardless of who settled at this cave, its collapse, possibly due to an earthquake, killed all of its inhabitants. This has led archaeologists to refer to Alepotrypa as a "Neolithic Pompeii" because of the similarities in both settlements being buried so that all artifacts were discovered almost exactly as they were at the time of their use.
This site has contributed to our knowledge of prehistoric Europe and will continue to do so as more excavations are held.