Prehistoric cave of Theopetra will soon be open to visitors

Work is to begin on making the cave of Theopetra in Thessaly accessible to visitors. The cave is a unique prehistoric site that was continuously inhabited from the Middle Paleolithic (110000 BC) to the Upper Paleolithic period (3000 BC). One of the most striking discoveries of the 14-year excavation was four human footprints in a row, from four different individuals, probably children. Other finds include skeletons from 15000, 9000 and 8000 BC, bone objects, stone tools, lumps of clay, traces of plants and seeds that reveal dietary habits, and evidence of the climate and the changes it underwent. Evaluating the evidence, experts say that the climate of what is now Thessaly was warm in the Lower Paleolithic period compared with the ice ages of the Middle Paleolithic. Carbon dating showed that remains of fire found in the lowest anthropogenic strata were 46,330 years old. The cave, which is being excavated by Ephor Nina Kyparissi, is the only one being explored in Thessaly and the only one in Greece with finds from the Middle Paleolithic Age up to 3000 BC that are significant because they show the transition from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic way of life in the area. The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) approved the study for the construction of pathways and special access ramps for people with limited mobility, but insisted that the ticket office and service area be located away from the entrance to the cave. The local municipality of Vassilika has offered 50,000 euros toward the project and the local community is seriously considering founding a museum. The study will be forwarded to the Thessaly regional administration for funding from the Third Community Support Framework.

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