The Petralona Cave


The Petralona Cave is about one kilometer from the village of Petralona in the prefecture of Halkidiki, Macedonia. It has been open to the public since 1979. The cave was discovered by Aris Poulianos, the traces of habitation of Arhanthropi, about 700,000 years, according to the very oldest European ancestors that have been found so far.

The cave was discovered by Philippos Hantzaridis on May 10, 1959 and became known for his palaeontological and paleoanthropological findings as early as 1960, after the accidental discovery in the cave by Petralona resident X. Sariyiannidis, the famous fossilized human skull. The value of the find and its uniqueness gave rise to a series of work inside and outside the cave. In 1968 and in the period 1974-1988 excavations were carried out in the cave by the anthropologist Aris Poulianos.

Pulianus’s publications on the cave speak of the stone and bone tools, but the temporary nature of the publications does not give us a clear picture of them. The findings are certainly important and constitute the first evidence of the occupation of the Greek geographical area.

From the anthropological point of view, the petrified skull is an important finding, but there is no unanimity among the experts about its dating and its evaluation. The main views diverge considerably and the skull is considered to belong to a person who lived some 700,000 years ago today and at about 200,000 years ago today.

Unfortunately, there is no compromise, nor is there any specification of an approach between the experts and the finding remains untapped anthropologically and archaeologically. There is an urgent need to provide a credible response to the assessment of the most important findings of the Petralona Cave.

The petralona 1 was discovered on September 16, 1960 at the Katsikas Hill of Petralona by Christos Sarigiannidis (18-9-1960), inside the limestone cave and glued to a stalagmite 23 cm above the ground. particularly transient in its morphology – so much that some believe it represents an intermediate situation between Homoneanderthalensis and his most primitive ancestor. In fact it shares several features with other Neanderthal fossils, but there are also very primitive features. In its general appearance Petralona 1 has the face of a Neanderthal but the skull of an archaic type. Originally, Petralona 1 was classified as Homoneandertalensis, but later redefined as Homoerectus. Today, however, most researchers agree that it belongs to the kind of fossils found in Atatürkka and other parts of Europe, Homoheidelbergensis.

Originally, Petralona 1 was dated to the depth of 70,000 years, a date corresponding to the most recent Neanderthal remains. Modern dates have yielded the depth of 700,000 years. The most recent, based on electron reverberation techniques combined with radionuclide and stratigraphic data, yields the minimum time span of 200,000 years. However, the morphology of the skull indicates more accurately the time span of 300,000 or 400,000 years.