Cave

A cave or cavern is a natural void in the ground,[1][2] specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word cave can also refer to much smaller openings such as sea caves, rock shelters, and grottos, though strictly speaking a cave is exogene, meaning it is deeper than its opening is wide,[3] and a rock shelter is endogene.[4]

Speleology is the science of exploration and study of all aspects of caves and the cave environment. Visiting or exploring caves for recreation may be called caving, potholing, or spelunking.

Types and formation

The formation and development of caves is known as speleogenesis; it can occur over the course of millions of years.[5] Caves can range widely in size, and are formed by various geological processes. These may involve a combination of chemical processes, erosion by water, tectonic forces, microorganisms, pressure, and atmospheric influences. Isotopic dating techniques can be applied to cave sediments, to determine the timescale of the geological events which formed and shaped present-day caves.[5]

It is estimated that a cave cannot exceed 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in depth due to the pressure of overlying rocks.[6] For karst caves the maximum depth is determined on the basis of the lower limit of karst forming processes, coinciding with the base of the soluble carbonate rocks.[7] Most caves are formed in limestone by dissolution.[8]

Caves can be classified in various other ways as well, including a contrast between active and relict: active caves have water flowing through them; relict caves do not, though water may be retained in them. Types of active caves include inflow caves ("into which a stream sinks"), outflow caves ("from which a stream emerges"), and through caves ("traversed by a stream").[9]

HallOfTheMountainKings
Speleothems in Hall of the Mountain King of Ogof Craig a Ffynnon, a solutional cave in South Wales.

Solutional cave

Solutional caves or karst caves are the most frequently occurring caves. Such caves form in rock that is soluble; most occur in limestone, but they can also form in other rocks including chalk, dolomite, marble, salt, and gypsum. Rock is dissolved by natural acid in groundwater that seeps through bedding planes, faults, joints, and comparable features. Over time cracks enlarge to become caves and cave systems.

The largest and most abundant solutional caves are located in limestone. Limestone dissolves under the action of rainwater and groundwater charged with H2CO3 (carbonic acid) and naturally occurring organic acids. The dissolution process produces a distinctive landform known as karst, characterized by sinkholes and underground drainage. Limestone caves are often adorned with calcium carbonate formations produced through slow precipitation. These include flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, soda straws and columns. These secondary mineral deposits in caves are called speleothems.

The portions of a solutional cave that are below the water table or the local level of the groundwater will be flooded.[10]

Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico and nearby Carlsbad Cavern are now believed to be examples of another type of solutional cave. They were formed by H2S (hydrogen sulfide) gas rising from below, where reservoirs of oil give off sulfurous fumes. This gas mixes with groundwater and forms H2SO4 (sulfuric acid). The acid then dissolves the limestone from below, rather than from above, by acidic water percolating from the surface.

Primary cave

Hawaiian lava tube
Exploring a lava tube in Hawaii.

Caves formed at the same time as the surrounding rock are called primary caves.

Lava tubes are formed through volcanic activity and are the most common primary caves. As lava flows downhill, its surface cools and solidifies. Hot liquid lava continues to flow under that crust, and if most of it flows out, a hollow tube remains. Such caves can be found in the Canary Islands, Jeju-do, the basaltic plains of Eastern Idaho, and in other places. Kazumura Cave near Hilo, Hawaii is a remarkably long and deep lava tube; it is 65.6 km long (40.8 mi).

Lava caves include but are not limited to lava tubes. Other caves formed through volcanic activity include rifts, lava molds, open vertical conduits, inflationary, blisters, among others.[11]

Sea cave or littoral cave

Painted cave
Painted Cave, a large sea cave, Santa Cruz Island, California

Sea caves are found along coasts around the world. A special case is littoral caves, which are formed by wave action in zones of weakness in sea cliffs. Often these weaknesses are faults, but they may also be dykes or bedding-plane contacts. Some wave-cut caves are now above sea level because of later uplift. Elsewhere, in places such as Thailand's Phang Nga Bay, solutional caves have been flooded by the sea and are now subject to littoral erosion. Sea caves are generally around 5 to 50 metres (16 to 164 ft) in length, but may exceed 300 metres (980 ft).

Corrasional cave or erosional cave

Corrasional or erosional caves are those that form entirely by erosion by flowing streams carrying rocks and other sediments. These can form in any type of rock, including hard rocks such as granite. Generally there must be some zone of weakness to guide the water, such as a fault or joint. A subtype of the erosional cave is the wind or aeolian cave, carved by wind-born sediments.[11] Many caves formed initially by solutional processes often undergo a subsequent phase of erosional or vadose enlargement where active streams or rivers pass through them.

Glacier cave

Big Four Glacier Ice cave
Glacier cave in Big Four Glacier, Big Four Mountain, Washington, ca. 1920

Glacier caves are formed by melting ice and flowing water within and under glaciers. The cavities are influenced by the very slow flow of the ice, which tends to collapse the caves again. Glacier caves are sometimes misidentified as "ice caves", though this latter term is properly reserved for bedrock caves that contain year-round ice formations.

Fracture cave

Fracture caves are formed when layers of more soluble minerals, such as gypsum, dissolve out from between layers of less soluble rock. These rocks fracture and collapse in blocks of stone.[12]

Talus cave

Talus caves are formed by the openings among large boulders that have fallen down into a random heap, often at the bases of cliffs.[13] These unstable deposits are called talus or scree, and may be subject to frequent rockfalls and landslides.

Anchialine cave

Anchialine caves are caves, usually coastal, containing a mixture of freshwater and saline water (usually sea water). They occur in many parts of the world, and often contain highly specialized and endemic fauna.

Physical patterns

  • Branchwork caves resemble surface dendritic stream patterns; they are made up of passages that join downstream as tributaries. Branchwork caves are the most common of cave patterns and are formed near sinkholes where groundwater recharge occurs. Each passage or branch is fed by a separate recharge source and converges into other higher order branches downstream.[14]
  • Angular network caves form from intersecting fissures of carbonate rock that have had fractures widened by chemical erosion. These fractures form high, narrow, straight passages that persist in widespread closed loops.[14]
  • Anastomotic caves largely resemble surface braided streams with their passages separating and then meeting further down drainage. They usually form along one bed or structure, and only rarely cross into upper or lower beds.[14]
  • Spongework caves are formed when solution cavities are joined by mixing of chemically diverse water. The cavities form a pattern that is three-dimensional and random, resembling a sponge.[14]
  • Ramiform caves form as irregular large rooms, galleries, and passages. These randomized three-dimensional rooms form from a rising water table that erodes the carbonate rock with hydrogen-sulfide enriched water.[14]
  • Pit caves (vertical caves, potholes, or simply "pits") consist of a vertical shaft rather than a horizontal cave passage. They may or may not be associated with one of the above structural patterns.

Geographic distribution

Caves are found throughout the world, but only a small portion of them have been explored and documented by cavers. The distribution of documented cave systems is widely skewed toward countries where caving has been popular for many years (such as France, Italy, Australia, the UK, the United States, etc.). As a result, explored caves are found widely in Europe, Asia, North America and Oceania, but are sparse in South America, Africa, and Antarctica.

This is a rough generalization, as large expanses of North America and Asia contain no documented caves, whereas areas such as the Madagascar dry deciduous forests and parts of Brazil contain many documented caves. As the world's expanses of soluble bedrock are researched by cavers, the distribution of documented caves is likely to shift. For example, China, despite containing around half the world's exposed limestone—more than 1,000,000 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi)—has relatively few documented caves.

Records and superlatives

World's five longest surveyed caves

  1. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, US[15]
  2. Sistema Sac Actun/Sistema Dos Ojos, Mexico[15]
  3. Jewel Cave, South Dakota, US[15]
  4. Sistema Ox Bel Ha, Mexico[15]
  5. Optymistychna Cave, Ukraine[15]

Ecology

Townsends in music hall
Townsend's big-eared bats in a cave in California
Proteus anguinus Postojnska Jama Slovenija
Olms in a Slovenian cave

Cave-inhabiting animals are often categorized as troglobites (cave-limited species), troglophiles (species that can live their entire lives in caves, but also occur in other environments), trogloxenes (species that use caves, but cannot complete their life cycle fully in caves) and accidentals (animals not in one of the previous categories). Some authors use separate terminology for aquatic forms (for example, stygobites, stygophiles, and stygoxenes).

Of these animals, the troglobites are perhaps the most unusual organisms. Troglobitic species often show a number of characteristics, termed troglomorphic, associated with their adaptation to subterranean life. These characteristics may include a loss of pigment (often resulting in a pale or white coloration), a loss of eyes (or at least of optical functionality), an elongation of appendages, and an enhancement of other senses (such as the ability to sense vibrations in water). Aquatic troglobites (or stygobites), such as the endangered Alabama cave shrimp, live in bodies of water found in caves and get nutrients from detritus washed into their caves and from the feces of bats and other cave inhabitants. Other aquatic troglobites include cave fish, and cave salamanders such as the olm and the Texas blind salamander.

Cave insects such as Oligaphorura (formerly Archaphorura) schoetti are troglophiles, reaching 1.7 millimetres (0.067 in) in length. They have extensive distribution and have been studied fairly widely. Most specimens are female, but a male specimen was collected from St Cuthberts Swallet in 1969.

Bats, such as the gray bat and Mexican free-tailed bat, are trogloxenes and are often found in caves; they forage outside of the caves. Some species of cave crickets are classified as trogloxenes, because they roost in caves by day and forage above ground at night.

Because of the fragile nature of the cave ecosystem, and the fact that cave regions tend to be isolated from one another, caves harbor a number of endangered species, such as the Tooth cave spider, liphistius trapdoor spider, and the gray bat.

Caves are visited by many surface-living animals, including humans. These are usually relatively short-lived incursions, due to the lack of light and sustenance.

Cave entrances often have typical florae. For instance, in the eastern temperate United States, cave entrances are most frequently (and often densely) populated by the bulblet fern, Cystopteris bulbifera.

Archaeological and cultural importance

Taino petroglyph in cave
Taíno petroglyphs in a cave in Puerto Rico

Throughout history, primitive peoples have made use of caves. The earliest human fossils found in caves come from a series of caves near Krugersdorp and Mokopane in South Africa. The cave sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai B, Drimolen, Malapa, Cooper's D, Gladysvale, Gondolin and Makapansgat have yielded a range of early human species dating back to between three and one million years ago, including Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus sediba and Paranthropus robustus. However, it is not generally thought that these early humans were living in the caves, but that they were brought into the caves by carnivores that had killed them.

The first early hominid ever found in Africa, the Taung Child in 1924, was also thought for many years to come from a cave, where it had been deposited after being predated on by an eagle. However, this is now debated (Hopley et al., 2013; Am. J. Phys. Anthrop.). Caves do form in the dolomite of the Ghaap Plateau, including the Early, Middle and Later Stone Age site of Wonderwerk Cave; however, the caves that form along the escarpment's edge, like that hypothesised for the Taung Child, are formed within a secondary limestone deposit called tufa. There is numerous evidence for other early human species inhabiting caves from at least one million years ago in different parts of the world, including Homo erectus in China at Zhoukoudian, Homo rhodesiensis in South Africa at the Cave of Hearths (Makapansgat), Homo neandertalensis and Homo heidelbergensis in Europe at Archaeological Site of Atapuerca, Homo floresiensis in Indonesia, and the Denisovans in southern Siberia.

In southern Africa, early modern humans regularly used sea caves as shelter starting about 180,000 years ago when they learned to exploit the sea for the first time (Marean et al., 2007; Nature). The oldest known site is PP13B at Pinnacle Point. This may have allowed rapid expansion of humans out of Africa and colonization of areas of the world such as Australia by 60–50,000 years ago. Throughout southern Africa, Australia, and Europe, early modern humans used caves and rock shelters as sites for rock art, such as those at Giants Castle. Caves such as the yaodong in China were used for shelter; other caves were used for burials (such as rock-cut tombs), or as religious sites (such as Buddhist caves). Among the known sacred caves are China's Cave of a Thousand Buddhas[21] and the sacred caves of Crete.

See also

References

  1. ^ Whitney, W. D. (1889). "Cave, n.1." def. 1. The Century dictionary: An encyclopedic lexicon of the English language (Vol. 1, p. 871). New York: The Century Co.
  2. ^ "Cave" Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
  3. ^ Moratto, Michael J. (2014). California Archaeology. Academic Press. p. 304. ISBN 9781483277356.
  4. ^ Lowe, J. John; Walker, Michael J. C. (2014). Reconstructing Quaternary Environments. Routledge. pp. 141–42. ISBN 9781317753711.
  5. ^ a b Laureano, Fernando V.; Karmann, Ivo; Granger, Darryl E.; Auler, Augusto S.; Almeida, Renato P.; Cruz, Franciso W.; Strícks, Nicolás M.; Novello, Valdir F. (2016-11-15). "Two million years of river and cave aggradation in NE Brazil: Implications for speleogenesis and landscape evolution". Geomorphology. 273: 63–77. Bibcode:2016Geomo.273...63L. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.08.009.
  6. ^ Kudryavtseva, I. and Lyuri, D. (1994) Geography. publishing house Avanta+. Vol. 3. p. 472. ISBN 5-86529-015-0
  7. ^ Комиссия спелеологии и карстоведения. Д. А. Тимофеев, В. Н. Дублянский, Т. З. Кикнадзе. Терминология карста. Базис карстования D.A. Timofeev, V.N. Dublyansky, T.Z. Kiknadze, 1991, Karst Terminology, The Commission for Speleology and Karst, Moscow Center of the Russian Geographical Society
  8. ^ "How Caves Form". Nova (TV series). Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  9. ^ Silvestru, Emil (2008). The Cave Book. New Leaf. p. 38. ISBN 9780890514962.
  10. ^ John Burcham. "Learning about caves; how caves are formed". Journey into amazing caves. Project Underground. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Culver, David C. (2004). Encyclopedia of Caves. Elsevier Academic Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0121986513.
  12. ^ Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm, Sweden; Mörner, Nils-Axel; Sjöberg, Rabbe; Obbola, Umeå, Sweden (September 2018). "Merging the concepts of pseudokarst and paleoseismicity in Sweden: A unified theory on the formation of fractures, fracture caves, and angular block heape". International Journal of Speleology. 47 (3): 393–405. doi:10.5038/1827-806X.47.3.2225. ISSN 0392-6672.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Kolawole, F.; Anifowose, A. Y. B. (2011-01-01). "Talus Caves: Geotourist Attractions Formed by Spheroidal and Exfoliation Weathering on Akure-Ado Inselbergs, Southwestern Nigeria". Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management. 4 (3): 1–6. doi:10.4314/ejesm.v4i3.1. ISSN 1998-0507.
  14. ^ a b c d e Easterbrook, Don, 1999, Surface Processes and Landforms [2nd edition], New Jersey, Prentice Hall, p. 207
  15. ^ a b c d e f g World’s Longest Caves List from The National Speleological Society
  16. ^ a b c World's Deepest Caves List from The National Speleological Society
  17. ^ Brocklebank, Tony. "Iranian cavers discover one of the world's deepest shafts". Darkness Below UK. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Exclusive: Deepest Underwater Cave Discovered".
  19. ^ "Is the Clearwater System the biggest of them all?". The Mulu Caves Project. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  20. ^ Owen, James (2009-07-04). "World's Biggest Cave Found in Vietnam". National Geographic News. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  21. ^ Olsen, Brad (2004). Sacred Places Around the World: 108 Destinations. CCC Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 9781888729160.
Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are 30 (approximately) rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 CE in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state of India. The caves include paintings and rock-cut sculptures described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, particularly expressive paintings that present emotion through gesture, pose and form.According to UNESCO, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced the Indian art that followed. The caves were built in two phases, the first phase starting around the 2nd century BCE, while the second phase was built around 400–650 CE, according to older accounts, or in a brief period of 460–480 CE according to later scholarship. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Ajanta Caves constitute ancient monasteries and worship-halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 75-metre (246 ft) wall of rock. The caves also present paintings depicting the past lives and rebirths of the Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura's Jatakamala, and rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities. Textual records suggest that these caves served as a monsoon retreat for monks, as well as a resting site for merchants and pilgrims in ancient India. While vivid colours and mural wall-painting were abundant in Indian history as evidenced by historical records, Caves 16, 17, 1 and 2 of Ajanta form the largest corpus of surviving ancient Indian wall-painting.

The Ajanta Caves are mentioned in the memoirs of several medieval-era Chinese Buddhist travellers to India and by a Mughal-era official of Akbar era in the early 17th century. They were covered by jungle until accidentally "discovered" and brought to Western attention in 1819 by a colonial British officer Captain John Smith on a tiger-hunting party. The caves are in the rocky northern wall of the U-shaped gorge of the river Waghur, in the Deccan plateau. Within the gorge are a number of waterfalls, audible from outside the caves when the river is high.With the Ellora Caves, Ajanta is one of the major tourist attractions of Maharashtra. It is about

6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from Fardapur, 59 kilometres (37 miles) from the city of Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India, 104 kilometres (65 miles) from the city of Aurangabad, and 350 kilometres (220 miles) east-northeast of Mumbai. Ajanta is 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu, Jain and Buddhist caves, the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta style is also found in the Ellora Caves and other sites such as the Elephanta Caves, Aurangabad Caves, Shivleni Caves and the cave temples of Karnataka.

Allegory of the Cave

The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato's Cave, was presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work Republic (514a–520a) to compare "the effect of education (παιδεία) and the lack of it on our nature". It is written as a dialogue between Plato's brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates, narrated by the latter. The allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (508b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–511e). All three are characterized in relation to dialectic at the end of Books VII and VIII (531d–534e).

Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man cannot see behind. Like the fire that cast light on the walls of the cave, the human condition is forever bound to the impressions that are received through the senses. Even if these interpretations (or, in Kantian terminology, intuitions) are an absurd misrepresentation of reality, we cannot somehow break free from the bonds of our human condition—we cannot free ourselves from phenomenal state just as the prisoners could not free themselves from their chains. If, however, we were to miraculously escape our bondage, we would find a world that we could not understand—the sun is incomprehensible for someone who has never seen it. In other words, we would encounter another "realm", a place incomprehensible because, theoretically, it is the source of a higher reality than the one we have always known; it is the realm of pure Form, pure fact.Socrates remarks that this allegory can be paired with previous writings, namely the analogy of the sun and the analogy of the divided line.

Amarnath Temple

Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine forms an important part of Hinduism, and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave across challenging mountainous terrain.

The Amarnath temple is one of 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or "Grand Shakti Peethas" – highly revered temples throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves (Tamil: பத்து மலை) is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples in Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu (Stone River), which flows past the hill. It is the tenth (பத்து - Pathu in Tamil) limestone hill from Ampang. Batu Caves is also the name of a nearby village.

The cave is one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside India, and is dedicated to Lord Murugan (Tamil God Murugan Tamil: தமிழ்க் கடவுள் முருகன்). It is the focal point of the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.

Batu Caves in short also referred as 10th Caves or Hill for Lord Muruga as there are six important holy shrines in India and four more in Malaysia. The three others in Malaysia are Kallumalai Temple in Ipoh, Tanneermalai Temple in Penang and Sannasimalai Temple in Malacca.

Cave of Altamira

The Cave of Altamira (; Spanish: Cueva de Altamira [ˈkweβa ðe altaˈmiɾa]) is located near the historic town of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria, Spain. It is renowned for prehistoric parietal cave art featuring charcoal drawings and polychrome paintings of contemporary local fauna and human hands. The earliest paintings were applied during the Upper Paleolithic, around 36,000 years ago. The site was only discovered in 1868 by Modesto Cubillas.Aside from the striking quality of its polychromatic art, Altamira's fame stems from the fact that its paintings were the first European cave paintings for which a prehistoric origin was suggested and promoted. Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola published his research with the support of Juan de Vilanova y Piera in 1880 to initial public acclaim. However, the publication of Sanz de Sautuola's research quickly led to a bitter public controversy among experts, some of whom rejected the prehistoric origin of the paintings on the grounds that prehistoric human beings lacked sufficient ability for abstract thought. The controversy continued until 1902, by which time reports of similar findings of prehistoric paintings in the Franco-Cantabrian region had accumulated and the evidence could no longer be rejected.Altamira is located in the Franco-Cantabrian region and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a key location of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain.

Cave of the Patriarchs

The Cave of the Patriarchs or Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Jews as the Cave of Machpelah (Hebrew: מערת המכפלה, Me'arat ha-Makhpela , trans. "cave of the double tombs" or "cave of the double caves") and to Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham (Arabic: الحرم الإبراهيمي‎, al-Haram al-Ibrahimi ), is a series of caves located in the heart of the old city of Hebron in the southern West Bank. According to the Abrahamic religions, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Abraham as a burial plot.

Over the cave stands a large rectangular enclosure dating from the Herodian-era. Byzantine Christians took it over and built a Basilica which after the Muslim conquest was converted into the Ibrahimi Mosque. Crusaders took over the site in the 12th century, but it was taken back by Saladin 1188 and reconverted into a mosque. Israel took control of the site in 1967, dividing the structure into a synagogue and a mosque. In 1994, the Hebron massacre occurred in which a Jewish settler killed 29 Muslims praying in the mosque.

The Arabic name of the complex reflects the prominence given to Abraham in Islam. Outside biblical and Quranic sources there are a number of legends and traditions associated with the cave.The site is considered by Jews to be the second holiest place in the world, after the Temple Mount.

Cave painting

Cave paintings are a type of parietal art (which category also includes petroglyphs, or engravings),

found on the wall or ceilings of caves. The term usually implies prehistoric origin, but cave paintings can also be of recent production: In the Gabarnmung cave of northern Australia,

the oldest paintings certainly predate 28,000 years ago, while the most recent ones were made less than a century ago.The oldest known cave paintings are over 40,000 years old (art of the Upper Paleolithic), found in both the Franco-Cantabrian region in western Europe, and in the caves in the district of Maros (Sulawesi, Indonesia). The oldest type of cave paintings are hand stencils and simple geometric shapes; the oldest undisputed examples of figurative cave paintings are somewhat younger, close to 35,000 years old.

A 2018 study claimed an age of 64,000 years for the oldest examples of (non-figurative) cave art in Iberia, which would imply production by Neanderthals rather than modern humans. In November 2018, scientists reported the discovery of the oldest known figurative art painting, over 40,000 (perhaps as old as 52,000) years old, of an unknown animal, in the cave of Lubang Jeriji Saléh on the Indonesian island of Borneo.

Caveman

A caveman is a stock character representative of primitive man in the Paleolithic. The popularisation of the type dates to the early 20th century, when Neanderthal Man was influentially described as "simian" or ape-like by Marcellin Boule and Arthur Keith.

While knowledge of human evolution in the Pleistocene has become much more detailed, the stock character has not disappeared, even though it anachronistically conflates characteristics of archaic humans and early modern humans.

The term "caveman" has its taxonomical equivalent in the now-obsolete Homo troglodytes, Linnaeus, 1758).

Caving

Caving – also known as spelunking in the United States and Canada and potholing in the United Kingdom and Ireland – is the recreational pastime of exploring wild (generally non-commercial) cave systems. In contrast, speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave environment.The challenges involved in caving vary according to the cave being visited; in addition to the total absence of light beyond the entrance, negotiating pitches, squeezes, and water hazards can be difficult. Cave diving is a distinct, and more hazardous, sub-speciality undertaken by a small minority of technically proficient cavers. In an area of overlap between recreational pursuit and scientific study, the most devoted and serious-minded cavers become accomplished at the surveying and mapping of caves and the formal publication of their efforts. These are usually published freely and publicly, especially in the UK and other European countries, although in the US, these are generally private.

Sometimes categorized as an "extreme sport", it is not commonly considered as such by longtime enthusiasts, who may dislike the term for its connotation of disregard for safety.Many caving skills overlap with those involved in canyoning and mine and urban exploration.

Chauvet Cave

The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in the Ardèche department of southern France is a cave that contains some of the best-preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, as well as other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life. It is located near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc on a limestone cliff above the former bed of the Ardèche River, in the Gorges de l'Ardèche.

Discovered on December 18, 1994, it is considered one of the most significant prehistoric art sites and the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO granted it World Heritage status on June 22, 2014.

The cave was first explored by a group of three speleologists: Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet for whom it was named six months after an aperture now known as "Le Trou de Baba" was discovered by Michel Rosa (Baba). At a later date the group returned to the cave. Another member of this group, Michel Chabaud, along with two others, travelled further into the cave and discovered the Gallery of the Lions, the End Chamber. Chauvet has his own detailed account of the discovery. In addition to the paintings and other human evidence, they also discovered fossilized remains, prints, and markings from a variety of animals, some of which are now extinct.

Further study by French archaeologist Jean Clottes has revealed much about the site. The dates have been a matter of dispute but a study published in 2012 supports placing the art in the Aurignacian period, approximately 32,000–30,000 years BP. A study published in 2016 using additional 88 radiocarbon dates showed two periods of habitation, one 37,000 to 33,500 years ago and the second from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago with most of the black drawings dating to the earlier period.

Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls (also Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish religious manuscripts found in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert, near Ein Feshkha on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Scholarly consensus dates these scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. The texts have great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection is currently under the ownership of the Government of the state of Israel, and housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.

Many thousands of written fragments have been discovered in the Dead Sea area. They represent the remnants of larger manuscripts damaged by natural causes or through human interference, with the vast majority holding only small scraps of text. However, a small number of well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts have survived – fewer than a dozen among those from the Qumran Caves. Researchers have assembled a collection of 981 different manuscripts – discovered in 1946/47 and in 1956 – from 11 caves. The 11 Qumran Caves lie in the immediate vicinity of the Hellenistic-period Jewish settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the eastern Judaean Desert, in the West Bank. The caves are located about one mile (1.6 kilometres) west of the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, whence they derive their name. Scholarly consensus dates the Qumran Caves Scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. Bronze coins found at the same sites form a series beginning with John Hyrcanus (in office 135–104 BCE) and continuing until the period of the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), supporting the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls.In the larger sense, the Dead Sea Scrolls include manuscripts from additional Judaean Desert sites, dated as early as the 8th century BCE and as late as the 11th century CE.Biblical texts older than the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered only in two silver scroll-shaped amulets containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom and dated c. 600 BCE. The third-oldest surviving known piece of the Torah, the En-Gedi Scroll, consists of a portion of Leviticus found in the Ein Gedi synagogue, burnt in the 6th century CE and analyzed in 2015. Research has dated it palaeographically to the 1st or 2nd century CE, and using the C14 method to sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE.Most of the texts use Hebrew, with some written in Aramaic (for example the Son of God text; in different regional dialects, including Nabataean), and a few in Greek. Discoveries from the Judaean Desert add Latin (from Masada) and Arabic (from Khirbet al-Mird) texts. Most of the texts are written on parchment, some on papyrus, and one on copper.Archaeologists have long associated the scrolls with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this connection and argue that priests in Jerusalem, or Zadokites, or other unknown Jewish groups wrote the scrolls. Robert Eisenman vigorously posits his theory that the later, non-biblical "sectarian" scrolls must be viewed in the context of a wider first-century CE “Opposition Movement,” including Essenes, Zealots, Sicarii, and/or Nazoreans, and particularly the early Judeo-Christian community of Jerusalem, the Ebionites, whose leader, James, the brother of Jesus, was acknowledged by the entire “Opposition Movement,” and who is no other than the Scrolls' Teacher of Righteousness. He thus creates a strong link between the Scrolls and the pre-Pauline Jewish Christian community.

Owing to the poor condition of some of the scrolls, scholars have not identified all of their texts. The identified texts fall into three general groups:

About 40% are copies of texts from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Approximately another 30% are texts from the Second Temple Period which ultimately were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible, like the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Tobit, the Wisdom of Sirach, Psalms 152–155, etc.

The remainder (roughly 30%) are sectarian manuscripts of previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group (sect) or groups within greater Judaism, like the Community Rule, the War Scroll, the Pesher on Habakkuk, and The Rule of the Blessing.

Denisovan

The Denisovans or Denisova hominins ( di-NEE-sə-və) are an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans in the genus Homo. Pending its taxonomic status, it currently carries temporary species or subspecies names Homo denisova, Homo altaiensis, Homo sapiens denisova, or Homo sp. Altai. In 2010, scientists announced the discovery of an undated finger bone fragment of a juvenile female found in the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, a cave that has also been inhabited by Neanderthals and modern humans.

The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the finger bone showed it to be genetically distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans. The nuclear genome from this specimen suggested that Denisovans shared a common origin with Neanderthals, that they ranged from Siberia to Southeast Asia, and that they lived among and interbred with the ancestors of some modern humans, with about three to five percent of the DNA of Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians and around six percent in Papuans deriving from Denisovans. Several additional specimens from the Denisova Cave were subsequently discovered and characterized, as was a single specimen from the Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau in China.A comparison with the genome of a Neanderthal from the Denisova cave revealed local interbreeding with local Neanderthal DNA representing 17 percent of the Denisovan genome, and evidence of interbreeding with an as yet unidentified ancient human lineage, while an unexpected degree of mtDNA divergence among Denisovans was detected.The lineage that developed into Denisovans and Neanderthals is estimated to have separated from the lineage that developed into "anatomically modern" Homo sapiens approximately 600,000 to 744,000 years ago. Denisovans and Neanderthals then significantly diverged from each other genetically a mere 300 generations after that. Several types of humans, including Denisovans, Neanderthals and related hybrids, may have each dwelt in the Denisova Cave in Siberia over thousands of years, but it is unclear whether they ever co-habitated in the cave. Denisovans may have interbred with modern humans in New Guinea as recently as 15,000 years ago.

Ellora Caves

Ellora (\e-ˈlȯr-ə\, IAST: Vērūḷ) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600–1000 CE period. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also features sculptures depicting the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics.There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public. These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, each group representing deities and mythologies prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion. They were built close to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India. All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu and Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region.Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, the site's location on an ancient South Asian trade route also made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region. It is 29 kilometres (18 miles) north-west of Aurangabad, and about 300 kilometres (190 miles) east-northeast of Mumbai. Today, the Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, are a major tourist attraction in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Karst

Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. It has also been documented for more weathering-resistant rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions. Subterranean drainage may limit surface water, with few to no rivers or lakes. However, in regions where the dissolved bedrock is covered (perhaps by debris) or confined by one or more superimposed non-soluble rock strata, distinctive karst features may occur only at subsurface levels and can be totally missing above ground.

The study of karst is considered of prime importance in petroleum geology because as much as 50% of the world's hydrocarbon reserves are hosted in porous karst systems.

Lascaux

Lascaux (French: Grotte de Lascaux, "Lascaux Cave"; English: , French: [lasko]) is the setting of a complex of caves near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne in southwestern France. Over 600 parietal wall paintings cover the interior walls and ceilings of the cave. The paintings represent primarily large animals, typical local and contemporary fauna that correspond with the fossil record of the Upper Paleolithic time. The drawings are the combined effort of many generations, and with continued debate, the age of the paintings is estimated at around 17,000 years (early Magdalenian). Lascaux was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1979, as element of the Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is an American national park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. Since the 1972 unification of Mammoth Cave with the even-longer system under Flint Ridge to the north, the official name of the system has been the Mammoth–Flint Ridge Cave System. The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941, a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.

The park's 52,830 acres (21,380 ha) are located primarily in Edmonson County, with small areas extending eastward into Hart and Barren counties. The Green River runs through the park, with a tributary called the Nolin River feeding into the Green just inside the park. Mammoth Cave is the world's longest known cave system with more than 400 miles (640 km) of surveyed passageways, which is nearly twice as long as the second-longest cave system, Mexico's Sac Actun underwater cave.

Nick Cave

Nicholas Edward Cave (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional actor, best known for fronting the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave's music is generally characterised by emotional intensity, a wide variety of influences, and lyrical obsessions with death, religion, love and violence.Born and raised in rural Victoria, Cave studied art before fronting the Birthday Party, one of Melbourne's leading post-punk bands, in the late 1970s. They relocated to London in 1980, but, disillusioned by life there, evolved towards a darker, more challenging sound, and acquired a reputation as "the most violent live band in the world". The Birthday Party is regarded as a major influence on gothic rock, and Cave, with his shock of black hair and pale, emaciated look, became an unwilling poster boy for the genre. Soon after the band's break-up in 1983, Cave formed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Much of the band's early material was set in a mythic American Deep South, drawing on spirituals and Delta blues, while Cave's preoccupation with Old Testament notions of good versus evil culminated in what has been called his signature song, "The Mercy Seat" (1988). The 1990s saw Cave achieve greater commercial success with quieter, piano-driven ballads, notably the Kylie Minogue duet "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (1996), and "Into My Arms" (1997). More recent releases, including the band's 16th and latest LP, Skeleton Tree (2016), feature increasingly abstract lyrics from Cave, as well as elements of ambient and electronic music. Grinderman, Cave's garage rock side project, has released two albums since 2006.

Cave co-wrote, scored and starred in the 1988 Australian prison film Ghosts... of the Civil Dead (1988), directed by John Hillcoat. He also wrote the screenplay for Hillcoat's bushranger film The Proposition (2005), and composed the soundtrack with frequent collaborator Warren Ellis. The pair's film score credits include The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Road (2009), Lawless (2012), and Hell or High Water (2016). Cave is the subject of several films, including the semi-fictional "day in the life" 20,000 Days on Earth (2014), and the documentary One More Time with Feeling (2016). Cave has also released two novels: And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) and The Death of Bunny Munro (2009).

Cave's songs have been covered by a wide range of artists, including Johnny Cash ("The Mercy Seat"), Metallica ("Loverman") and Arctic Monkeys ("Red Right Hand"). He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007, and named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2017.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are an Australian rock band formed in Melbourne in 1983 by vocalist Nick Cave, multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey and guitarist Blixa Bargeld. The band has featured international personnel throughout its career and presently consists of Cave, violinist and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn P. Casey (all from Australia), guitarist George Vjestica (United Kingdom), keyboardist/percussionist Toby Dammit (United States) and drummers Thomas Wydler (Switzerland) and Jim Sclavunos (United States). The band has released sixteen studio albums and completed numerous international tours, and has been considered "one of the most original and celebrated bands of the post-punk and alternative rock eras in the '80s and onward".The band was founded in 1983 following the demise of Cave and Harvey's former group the Birthday Party, the members of which met at a boarding school in Victoria. By the release of their fifth studio album Tender Prey in 1988, they shifted from post-punk towards an experimental alternative rock sound, later incorporating various influences throughout their career. For example, the 2008 album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and the side-project Grinderman were strongly influenced by garage rock. Synthesizers and minimal guitar work feature prominently on Push the Sky Away (2013), recorded after Harvey's departure from the band in 2009.

Russell Cave National Monument

The Russell Cave National Monument is a U.S. National Monument in northeastern Alabama, United States, close to the town of Bridgeport. The Monument was established on May 11, 1961, when 310 acres (1.3 km2) of land were donated by the National Geographic Society to the American people. It is now administered and maintained by the National Park Service. The National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

Russell Cave has an exceptionally large main entrance, which was used for thousands of years as a shelter by cultures of prehistoric Indians, from approximately 6500 BCE, the period of earliest-known human settlement in the southeastern United States, to 1650 CE and the period of European colonization. It is believed to have primarily served as a seasonal winter shelter. The people relied on the surrounding forest to gather produce and hunt for game and fish, stone and game for tools, and wood fuel for fires. Guided tours of the shelter area are available.

With a mapped length of 7.2 miles (11.6 km), Russell Cave is the third-longest mapped cave in Alabama. It is ranked 90th on the United States Long Cave List, and is listed as number 314 on the World Long Cave List. Caving is no longer allowed inside the cave. The grounds offer trails for walking, and the area is a station on the North Alabama Birding Trail.

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