Cave of Petralon
Greece, Halkidiki

Petralona Cave is located on the western slope of Mount Katsika, 1 km from the village of Petralona and 50 km from Thessaloniki. A karst cave was discovered in 1959 by a local resident Philip Hadzaridis, and in 1960 a skull of a primitive man of the archanthropus (erect man) was found in it. Exploration of the cave was started in 1965 at the initiative of the President of the Greek Speleological Society Aris Puliano. A detailed analysis of the geological layers of the cave showed that the discovered skull belongs to a primitive man who lived more than 700,000 years ago. In addition, fossils of extinct ancient animals were found: lions, hyenas, bears, panthers, elephants, rhinos, bison, as well as 25 species of birds, 16 species of rodents and 17 species of bats. Using the modern methods of nuclear physics, the age of soot found in the cave was determined. Scientists have established that these are traces of the most ancient fire that was ignited by man on earth. Research continued until 1976, and for visitors the cave of Petralona was opened in 1979. The cave is located at an altitude of 300 meters above sea level, its length is about 2 kilometers, its area is 10,400 square meters, galleries with stalactites and stalagmites are 8 to 10 meters in size. The temperature regime inside the cave is constant and equal to 17 degrees Celsius. On the sides of the aisles there are display cases containing stone and bone tools, bones, jaws and teeth of various animals found in the cave. Most of the finds of tremendous anthropological and paleontological value are kept in the Anthropological Museum, located next to the cave.