Decorated with magnificent stalagmites and stalactites, the cave of Petralona is located at the foot of the Katsiki Mountain at an altitude of 300 meters above the sea level.
The cave was discovered in 1959 by a resident of the Petralona village and became world famous in 1960, when the skull of an ancient man was found here.
The systematic excavation of the cave began in 1965 under the guidance of the professor of Anthropology Aris Pulianos. His studies showed that the age of the found skull is about 700 000 years, which makes it the oldest europeoid in the world.
This age was based on the detailed analysis of stratigraphy, 34 geological layers, and on the study of the primitive tools found in all the layers. The fossil extinct animals like lions, hyenas, bears, panthers, elephants, rhinoceroses, bison and various species of deer and horses, as well as 25 bird species, 16 rodent species and 17 species of bats were found here.
An important contribution to the age analysis was made by archeometry. The materials used for the chronology were bones, alumina, stalagmites and traces of fire (ash, charred bones) - the oldest ever created by human being.
The entrance to the cave is an artificial tunnel with a length of about 100 meters, which was opened on the site of the once existing natural entrance, hidden from the human eye for more than 500,000 years until the day of its discovery in 1959. The temperature in the cave remains at 17 C degrees all year long. The right and left walls of the tunnel acquaint visitors with some stone and bone tools of labor and petrified remains of various animals.
However most of the exhibits, are presented in the Museum of Anthropology, built next to the cave. At the place where the artificial tunnel ends, the cave itself begins, and the hall of the Anthropological Association of Greece meets the guests. Here you can see a sculptural group that reproduces a fragment of an ancient person’s life. In the same room a prehistoric tool made of quartz is exhibited under a transparent plastic.
The "Aristotle's Hall" is dedicated to the legendary philosopher, who is considered to be a father of anthropology, since he was one of the first to spoke about the theory of the evolution of life. During the excavations, many bear bones were found. Apparently, the ancient inhabitants of the cave found bears sleeping, and then ate their meat, using the skin for clothing, and bones for the production of tools. That's why in this room an effigy of a bear was placed.
The last hall is called "mausoleum" and this is the driest and the warmest hall of the cave. Here, the skull and skeleton of an ancient man, 155-157 cm tall, was found. He died at the age of about 30-35 years old, reaching the old age for those times, since the average age varied from 18 to 20 years. Bones of animals, bone needles and traces of fire were found around him. The facial characteristics of the ancient man of the cave of Petralona captured the oldest ancestor of Europeans.
A trip to the cave of Petralona will fill both adults and children with unforgettable impressions.