Archeology: Researchers find cave sealed for thousands of years

Archeology: Researchers find cave sealed for thousands of years

‘World-Class Discovery’: Researchers uncover cave sealed for thousands of years

Archaeology: A Cave

Researchers have discovered a completely sealed cave in the so-called Cueva del Arco complex.

© University of Murcia

Archaeologists have discovered a cave in a cave system in south-east Spain that has apparently been sealed for thousands of years. In particular, scratch marks inside the grotto made the researchers suspicious.

While exploring a cave system in the southeast of Spain Researchers have uncovered a vast cavern sealed for millennia, draped with huge stalactites and furrowed by the claws of long-extinct cave bears. They claim that this “opens a new door to prehistory”.

The find was made in the Cueva del Arco complex, a collection of caves in the Almadenes Gorge near the town of Cieza. The site has already been relatively well explored. Archaeologists have already been able to determine that it showed signs of settlement dating back 50,000 years. The caves are one of the few places on the eastern Iberian Peninsula where the transition from Neanderthals to modern humans can be documented. The discovery of the previously unknown cave gives the experts hope for more finds.

Archaeology: Ancient cave in Spain could rewrite the chapter of prehistory

As reported by the “Miami Herald”, among others, prehistorians from the Universities of Murcia and Jaume I in Castelló came across a muddy entrance to an unknown grotto in 2018. However, her work was interrupted by the corona pandemic.

The excavations could only be continued last year and the scientists secured the entrance to the cave. The interior of the cave almost put them in euphoria: “We were faced with a world-class discovery,” said the team in a statement on Friday.

“The rooms were enormous, some of them were 20 meters high, making them the tallest in the region. The stalactites were also unique, some of them were three meters long and one centimeter wide, which means that thanks to the isolation of the cave over have grown for many thousands of years under almost the same conditions.”

Researchers find cave bear claw marks

In addition to the dimensions of the cave, the archaeologists also found evidence that could partially describe the prehistory of Spain. They found prints of cave bears on the walls, which died out 24,000 years ago. This would mean that these bears lived in much more southern climes than previously thought.

“The identification of cave bear claw marks on many parts of the walls makes the cave an important and truly unique example of a place where these giant mammals lived in southern Europe,” the statement said.

Martín Lerma, the project’s scientific director, said the find “exceeded all our expectations” and added: “It opens a new door to prehistory”.

While the discovery of such a large, pristine cave could attract researchers and tourists to the region, Martín Lerma urged people to give experts time to complete their studies. “We must not forget that what we have here is an intact natural treasure – and it must remain so.

Sources: University of Murcia, Miami Herald

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