Paleolithic Cave of Kastritsa

Sites & Monuments Paleolithic Cave of Kastritsa

In the basin of Ioannina, at the foot of the NW slope of the Kastritsa hill, once next to the shore of Lake Pamvotida, systematic excavations in the 1960s (Cambridge University, under the auspices of the British School of Athens) brought to light the remains of hunter-gatherers of the Upper Paleolithic period (24,000-16,000 or 13,000 years ago).

In the residential networks of the seasonally moving Paleolithic groups, Kastritsa has been – sometime as a camp, sometime as a transit station – a hub for the management of the resources of Epirus mainland. In the safety provided by the cave, the hunters gathered the prey from their forays into the lakeside grasslands, and the surrounding plateaus: red deer with multi-pronged horns, robust primeval oxen, small horses, waterfowl, foxes, etc. To cover all the needs for food and general living, the tenants made the most of the carcasses and their products: meat, marrow, horns, bones, skins, furs, etc. Artisan stonemasons, constantly renewing old technological traditions, in a variety of flintstones, made weapon parts (e.g. spearheads and arrows for bow), and processing tools (e.g. knives, scrapers, chisels) in varieties of flint. Also, on the spot they made precious beads from deer teeth which, together with others made from small sea shells, constituted elements of unknown compositions. With these, they decorated the bodies (e.g. necklaces, armbands), the clothes, or other utensils made of perishable materials (e.g. backpacks), encoding significances and relationships within and outside the group.

Eleni Kotzambopoulou

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