Did Captain Caveman have the first man cave?
Something about them drew early humans to them. They had it all:
- They offered protection from the wild beasties
- They offered protection from the weather
- The kept you warm in the winter and cool in the summer
- You didn't have to build it
Yes, caves seemed like a great place to live for cavemen.
Although, there is plenty of evidence that early humans were making free standing shelters out of animal hide and bones and wood. But, because of the way nature works, these free standing shelters didn't leave much for us to find.
Caves did. That's why today's archeologists hunt in caves. You're more likely to find something in one of them than you are looking out in the middle of the savannah.
Some caves were better than others for living in. You had to take a lot into consideration. Like:
- Which direction the opening faced
- How close it was to food/water source
- Was it a damp cave or a dry one
- as it large enough for everyone and the herds in case of danger
As a result, when you found a good cave, you stayed. For a long time.
Take for example, Karain Cave in Antalaya Turkey.
Humans first encountered Karain Cave in the early Paleolithic era, about 150,000 years ago. On first spotting it, they knew it was going to be a good cave to live in.
But it wasn't the fact that sits about 400 feet up a hill making it great for defense. Nor was it the fertile plain it overlooks, full of fruits, nuts and berries, as well as game to feed the people. And water was plentiful. And it was multi chambered making for living quarters, storage, and just a lot of extra space.
No, all those things could have told them it was a good cave.
But it was the fact that it already had people living there that let them know it was a good cave.
Archeologists aren't sure how long the cave was inhabited by Neanderthals, but we know they spent some time there.
But what we do know is, once the humans moved in, they didn't move out for 25,000 years.
That's right. Karain Cave is a cave where hunter/gatherers gave up the nomadic life and settled down to, (eventually), becoming an agrarian society.
When you think about it, 25,000 years is a long time to sit in one place. Heck, that's longer than any city has been around.
But, because this is Otters Oddities, you know I'm not stopping there.
Nope. Not by a long shot.
Theopetra Cave located near the city of Meteora in Greece puts Karain Cave to shame.
While there is only trace evidence showing Neanderthals stayed in Karain Cave, Theopetra Cave is a unique location where archeologists have a chance to examine the historical remains of both Neanderthals and of early humans.
There is clear evidence of the replacement of the Neanderthals. Also, there is clear evidence of the transition from hunter/gatherers to farmers. This is the only location where archeologists get to see all of this in one location.
And the reason for that is, evidence shows the cave was continuously inhabited from 135,000 years ago until 4,000 BCE.
That's 131,000 years of someone living in the same cave. But, that's not all. From 4,000 BCE until 1955, the cave saw occasional use. In the bronze age it was used as shelter by certain groups, only to be abandoned for whatever reason, and until 1955, shepherds would shelter their flocks from bad weather there.
Archeologists excavated the preserved footprints of 3 different children dating back to about 130,000 BCE.
But one of the more impressive things about Theopetra Cave is the wall that was uncovered.
In 2010 it was announced that Optically Stimulated Luminescence was used to date a wall structure that had been found near the entrance of the cave. It dated back to 23,000 years ago. This coincides with the beginning of the last ice age. From the location of the wall, it is believed the wall was built to shelter the cave from the cold and wind.
Sounds logical, you may think. And it does. But what makes the wall so special is, it's the oldest known man made structure.
These days, you hear of people complaining that they have to sign a 1 year lease to rent an apartment, or about a 30 year mortgage.
Consider living in the same cave for your entire life. Hell, the entire lives of your ancestors to you to your future relatives who wont be born for several thousand millennia.