Caves of Humanity - Denisova Cave, Sierra de Atapuerca, Liang Bua, Sima de los Huesos, Altamira.
Sierra de Atapuerca
The largest, most populated, most famous "home" of our ancestors. Holy of holies of anthropologists. Sanctuary of archaeologists' sensations. Cultural Site of Special Value and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in Spain, in the area of the city of Burgos.
Findings made on its territory back in the 19th century became the harbingers of the long glory of the cave. In 1868, construction of a railway began here from the Sierra de la Demanda mountain range, where ore and coal were mined. A narrow-gauge railway was supposed to run in this area. To build it, it was necessary to cut a trench in the rocks. It was then that a real warehouse of ancient remains appeared to the world.
However, permanent excavations began in the cave only in the 1970s. At first, however, animal bones were found here (amphibians, lizards, pigeons, mammals, Etruscan rhinoceroses, wild boars, fallow deer, etc.). And in 1994 we first stumbled upon a hominid. This turned out to be the most important and oldest evidence of the evolution of the human race in Europe. The remains that have been preserved by the cave date from almost a million years ago to the Bronze Age. The people lived here in darkness: from Homo antecessor, Heidelberg people to us - Sapiens.
The cave has preserved not only bones, but also tools of labor - only 100-200 stone artifacts of the Oldovan appearance (the Olduvai (Oldovan), or pebble, culture is the most primitive culture of stone processing, when the stone was simply split in half to obtain a sharp edge; there were about 2, 7 million years ago. Disappeared about 1 million years ago; the first pebble tools began to make more Australopithecus - NS).
Interestingly, the burial conditions indicate possible cannibalism. It is possible that both people and animals found here were eaten. Their bones are piled up in one heap. The question is whether it was ordinary or ritual cannibalism. If the latter, then, whatever one may say, already the rudiments of a cult, and with it a religion.
Homoantecessor (literally "human predecessor"; lived 1, 2 million - 780 thousand years ago). A short and rather "graceful" representative of the genus Homo for that time (up to 1, 6 m in height). But it is already in many ways similar to its Neanderthal descendants. He had developed superciliary arches, massive lower jaws without a chin (like the Neanderthals), large teeth. The brain is already large enough - 1000 cubic meters. see He made primitive tools and "hunted". True, carrion was his main diet.
Homoheidelbergensis (Heidelberg man; 800-130 thousand years ago) is the direct ancestor of the Neanderthals. The most complete and best-preserved "collection" of bones of this species was found in the Sierra de Atapuerca cave. This is already a real "northerner". There is no trace of the African "grace" of Homoantecessor.
The Heidelberg people were tall (1 m 70 cm), stocky, massive, with a convex face, a heavy jaw and a characteristic feature - no chin. And they also had a big brain - up to 1400 cubic meters. see They made complex tools (according to Acheulean technology), knew how to hunt in groups. And on large animals.
Atapuerca, Sima de los Huesos
This is not a house - this is a grave. There are no bones below the level of occurrence. But there is probably no place richer in ancient remains (more than 1600 human remains). At least not yet discovered.
The cave is a kind of mine, where, apparently, the Heidelberg people already familiar to us dumped their dead. Attracted by the smell of decaying bodies, animals also got here: Deninger's mid-Pleistocene bears, lions, lynxes (forest cats), foxes, wolves, small weasels and rodents. They could no longer get out of here. The dating of the remains is about 430 thousand years ago.For obvious reasons, there are no weapons.
The cave is located near the Sierra de Atapuerca (hence the similar names). They started digging here a long time ago. Since 1976.
“What makes the Cima de los Huesos cave unique is the enormous and completely unprecedented collection of remains of ancient people in the sediments at its bottom. Since its discovery, we have not been able to find a single place that would have brought so much for the study of extinct species of ancient people, including the Neanderthals, "- this is how the leading researcher Juan Luis Arsuaga from the Complutense University of Madrid explained the scientific value of this cave. Spain).
It is this unique place that is called the cave of all people. This is understandable. Everyone lived here: Neanderthals, Denisovans and Sapiens (Cro-Magnons are our direct ancestors). Alternately. And for a long time.
The cave is located in the Soloneshensky region of the Altai Territory on the banks of the Anuy River. Altai, as you know, is generally a well-known favorite habitat of ancient people. It was here that the remains (several teeth and two phalanges of the fingers) of the famous Denisovan man were found. Here and nowhere else. Bye. Although some incomprehensible skulls that do not fit into any classification were found in neighboring China. It is believed that this could be the remains of the Denisovites. But in the places where they were found, it is very warm, so the DNA, alas, has not been preserved (but from the remains in the Denisova cave, DNA was just extracted and found that 4.5% of Denisovan genes are contained in the blood of indigenous Melanesians). So, of course, it is impossible to say for certain. Already about 280 thousand years ago, Neanderthals began to live in the cave.
In general, the cave has been known for a long time. Since the 19th century. A missionary, Archpriest Vasily Verbitsky, wrote about her as an object “not of any interest”. And in 1926 the artist Nicholas Roerich visited the cave. In 1977, it became open to archeology. Excavations have been going on here since 1982 to the present day. During this time, more than 20 (!) Cultural layers of different eras have been identified.
On the border of the 11th layer, which is considered "Denisovan", archaeologists unearthed miniature stone needles made of bird bones, an elegant pendant ring made of soft marble, necklaces made of animal teeth, shell pendants, and ostrich egg shell beads (of course, brought from then from afar), jewelry made of ornamental stone, a bracelet made of a rare chlodolite stone, which changes color under different lighting conditions, etc.
There is a high probability that all this stuff belonged to the Denisovites. But in those days, our distant ancestors - Cro-Magnons - what they could do was to do rough scrapers and chops. It is possible that someone on this planet was more talented than us. At least in some ways he was ahead of us. This "someone" may be Denisovans.
Liang Bua cave
Located on the Indonesian island of Flores. It was here in 2003 that the remains of the famous Flores man were found, which some anthropologists are still desperately trying to attribute to microcephalus. Most scientists do not share this point of view, citing exhaustive arguments. But after all, Neanderthals were also "not recognized", once calling them simply defective Cro-Magnons.
Interestingly, the bones found in this cave were not fossilized, but rather like … a wet blotter or mashed potatoes. The island is tropical, and the bones, as it turned out, are about 12 thousand years old. To deliver them to the "mainland" safe and sound and just pick them up, local archaeologist Thomas Sutikna made a homemade preparation from glue-moment and nail polish. Discoveries are not easy, to be sure.
In 2004, more remains were found. Putting it all together, it was possible to compose the appearance of the Flores man. It turned out, frankly, a short hominid (about 1 m in height) with long arms hanging down to the knees, with a tiny brain of about 400 cubic meters. see - less than that of chimpanzees. And also primitive stone tools were found in the cave.Scientists suggest that they were still able to make the Pithecanthropus of Java, which are the ancestors of the Floresians and who had a much larger brain than their descendants. The floresians themselves gradually degraded in these paradise bushes, but they did not forget how to make tools.
The Floresians, or, as they are also called, the hobbits, have become one of the species of the human race. Along with the Neanderthals and Denisovans. This is why Liang Bua Cave is so important.
Another famous place. Another World Heritage Site. Located in Spain, 30 km from the city of Santander.
Drawings of the late Paleolithic era (15-8 thousand years ago) on the walls of the cave are impressive. Such anatomically correct, and even colored painting for those times is a real masterpiece. Here are bison, horses, wild boars, and handprints. The drawings are made with charcoal, ocher, hematite and other paints of natural origin. Among other things, Stone Age artists used the natural unevenness of the walls to create a three-dimensional effect of the images.
In 1879, Altamira was discovered by amateur archaeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola with his nine-year-old daughter. Later he was accused of falsification. Nobody believed that the ancients could paint like that. However, after the death of the unfortunate archaeologist, when similar drawings were found in other places, the researcher was rehabilitated.
In the 1960s and 1970s, tourists poured into the cave. Altamira was visited by up to 1,500 people a day. All this had an extremely negative effect on the "art gallery" of the cave. Mold appeared on the walls (from dampness), fragile drawings began to deteriorate. In 1977 the cave was closed for restoration. In 1982, they opened, but sharply reduced the flow of tourists - to 20 people a day. In 2002, the cave was closed altogether. However, its exact "copy" was opened nearby, which anyone can admire today.
Similar in importance are the Chauvet and Lascaux caves, located in France and also painted with amazingly realistic images of all kinds of animals.