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Greece is without a doubt a historic gold mine.
Located in the vicinity of Meteora, we find a striking rock formation that is home to a number of enigmatic caves.
One such cave is the Theopetra cave, home to a mysterious and unique archaeological site.
The limestone of the Theopetra cave has been dated to the Upper Cretaceous period, 135–65 million years BP.
Curiously, the cave is home to one of the longest archaeological sequences in Greece, featuring the cultural remains of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic as well as the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.
In more recent times, it is known that the cave was used by shepherds as a shelter for their flocks.
Greece—a treasure trove of history
Numerous archaeological excavations that have been performed over the years have revealed that the cave—located in the central region of Thessaly—has been occupied by humans for as long as 130,000 years.
Excavations of the cave started in 1987 lasting 20 years, until 2007. The project was led by Dr. Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika, the head of the Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology and Speleography.
Being the first cave excavated in Thessaly, researchers meticulously studied it, finding evidence of a continuous sequence of deposits that date from the Middle Palaeolithic up to the end of the Neolithic period.
Among the most significant discoveries, archeologists discovered through micromorphological analysis on the sediment that the region had been exposed to both hot and warm weather through millennia.
As the weather changed, so did the cave’s population.
Archaeologists found up to three human footprints that were embedded in the caves soft earthen floor. Studies revealed how the footprints inside the cave most likely belonged to a group of Neanderthal children, who lived inside the cave during the Middle Palaeolithic period.
But perhaps one of the most significant discoveries made in the Theopetra cave was a structure located at the entrance: a stone wall that closed of the entrance to the cave tens of thousands of years ago.
The Oldest Wall on Earth?
Using a method called Optically Stimulated Luminescence, archeologists of the Ministry of Athenian Culture found that the wall at the entrance of the cave was at least 23,000 years old.
Scientists found that the wall coincided with the last glacial Ice Age, meaning that the cave’s inhabitants most likely erected the wall in order to protect them from the extreme cold from the outside.
This wall, say, experts, is considered the oldest manmade structure in Greece, and some suggest it may be the oldest wall on the surface of the planet.