Cave of Petralona in Halkidiki

The Petralona cave was discovered in 1959 by Philip Hatzarides. At first he thought that the fissure he found would be a water source. He and his fellow villagers descended with ropes and saw a cave with stalactites and stalagmites.

It became world famous in 1960, when Christos Sarigiannidis found the famous skull of the archanthropus. During the excavations carried out by Professor Aris Tuliano in 1965 it was discovered that the archanthropus of Petralona is 700,000 years old and that it is an archaic form of modern man. The cave is located on the slope of the mountain and its natural entrance has been closed due to the landslide of the slope. For this reason, an artificial tunnel of about 100 meters was created. From the day it was discovered and for about fifty years until the old natural entrance was opened. The temperature inside the cave remains constant at around 17 in winter and summer. To the right and left of the tunnel walls are additions , which contain stone and bone tools as well as bones, drops and teeth of various animals.

Next to the cave, an anthropological museum exhibit hall has been erected and the bulk of the findings are exhibited there. Horse bones, a deer jaw, a wild goose jaw and a Palaeolithic quartz tool have been uncovered in the place where the hall was built and remain in place. In various parts of the cave the stratigraphy is 17 metres deep and a total of 34 geological layers have been discovered. Their formation is due to slow deposition of requests. Their colour variations reflect climatic variations. The darker ones contain the most finds because they represent glacial periods, when mainly people moved in to protect themselves from adverse climatic conditions. The lighter layers contain few finds and belong to warmer periods. During periods of intense humidity, stalagmitic layers were formed and there are hardly any finds. Moving westwards through the cave we enter a room dedicated to the philosopher Aristotle, which is why it is called the Hall of Aristotle. In this room many fossilized bear bones were found. It is believed that the archanthropes found them in hibernation, killing them to feed on their meat. Their skin was used for clothing and the bones for making bone tools. In Aristotle's hall there was a natural palaeo entrance which was blocked 550,000 years ago.

Inside the cave after passing the halls dedicated to Dana Nyssis and Anaxagoras we reach the hall of Ares n. Goulianos who is the excavator of the cave of Petralona. Here, at a depth of 30 meters, a part of the skull of a young archanthropus has been found. The length of the cave is about 2 kilometers including the branches. In the hall of the inland cave there is a representation of a hearth. Fire traces of burnt bones and ashes have been found dating back 700,000 years ago, representing the oldest fire lit by a human hand on earth. The last section is called the mausoleum and is the driest and warmest room in the cave. Here the skull and skeleton of the Stone Man was found, who was a man and was 155 - 157 cm tall. He died at the age of 30 -35 years, which was very old for his time. Animal bones, bone needles and traces of fire were found around him. The cave of Petralona can be visited every day from morning to afternoon.