Ice Age animal bones found in Karst cave

Sežana, 11 August - A group of speleologists exploring a Karst cave near Sežana in the south-west has come across an exciting archaeological find. While expanding one of the cave's shafts, they stumbled on animal bones which are believe to be between 18,000 and 14,000 years old, stemming from the Ice Age.

The head of the group, Ludvik Husu from Sežana, has told the STA that they dug out the bones about a hundred metres from the cave's entrance earlier this month.

He said he had found the different parts of animal skeleton and teeth interesting, so he took some of them out of the cave to have them examined. He left the rest in the cave.

In 1985, Husu found the remains of an Ice Age wolverine in the cave at the outskirts of the village of Orlek.

Archaeologist and professor at the University of Primorsko Boris Kavur said that preliminary findings had shown the bones to be from wild cattle - a bison and a robust type of horse.

Based on this identification, the bones were dated to late Plesitocene, the peak of Ice Age.

That was the time when due to the forming of continental ice, the sea level dropped by about 120 metres, which means that the Adriatic Sea ended at the line between Italy's Ancona and Croatia's Zadar.

What is today the northern Adriatic Sea, was a salty steppe area at the time, where large herds of herbivores thrived.

Although animal bones are often discovered in caves, Husu thinks this find is extraordinary, because on the one hand it points to diversity of the animals living in the Karst region at the time and on the other suggests what the type of landscape was a steppe with scarce vegetation.

This helps create a picture of what habits people had in that period. Given that herds of herbivores have seasonal migration routes, it could be assumed that hunters systematically waited for them along these routes.

This entailed planning, preparation and communication between smaller communities, Husu said.

The animal find will be further studied at the Archaeology Institute at the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts.