Fragthi Cave constitutes one of the most famous and important caves not only in Greece but in Europe as well. It is a unique cave overlooking the Argolic Gulf opposite of Kilada village in southeastern Argolis.
The cave was occupied from the Paleolithic circa 20,000 BCE through the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, being abandoned about 3000 BCE (Middle Neolithic). It is one of the very few settlements in the world that shows continuous human occupation for more than 20,000 years. During that period, the cave was destroyed due to a quite strong earthquake.
The mouth of the cave is situated about 12.50 m. above the modern sea level and opens up roughly to the northwest. There is a small rocky terrace in front of the cave and, beneath it, the present surface slopes rather gently down to the shore 50 m. away. The cave’s length is 150m and it consists of two separated rooms and a small lake in which sun beams create a magic picture in the visitor’s eyes.
Fragthi Cave also contains some of the earliest evidence for agriculture in Greece. The first inhabitants were probably hunter gatherers. None appear to be native to the region, while two are certainly from Asia Minor. This would seem to indicate that the farming of legumes and nuts preceded that of grain in Greece, if not in Asia Minor at least. This would make this area the oldest known agricultural site in Greece.
The pottery found in the cave is the most characteristic of this period. It is a burnished monochrome ware. The fabric of this ware is gritty and slightly spongy, usually darkish in color and the interiors are frequently blackened. The exterior surfaces are most often brownish or reddish brown. The most typical shapes are plain rims, bases rare, and handles even rarer. Aside from an occasional plastic rib or knob, burnishing is the only form of surface treatment. It regularly covers the whole exterior of the vessel but often extends to a narrow band just inside the lip.
One of the most significant discoveries in these excavations was the exposure in 1968 of a complete male adult skeleton of the Mesolithic period. It had been laid out in a north-south orientation (head towards the south but facing east) with the knees drawn up in a loosely contracted position. The arms and hands had been placed over the chest of the somewhat twisted torso. The skeleton was surrounded and at least by many small stones and seems to lie in a shallow depression in which some evidence of burning was also present. Two more skeletons belonging to children were also found during the excavation buried in diverse orientation.
Obsidian items from the cave have been traced to the island of Melos 80 miles away by sea, which indicates long-distance sea travel. It appears to be a clear evidence about the transportation means of that period.
Moreover, large fish bones have also been found, a fact that proves the deep sea fishing from that period of time.
The cave is accessible either by car or boat that departs from the small port nearby.
The Paleolithic Cave offers a unique experience and real excitement by revealing humanity’s first origins and prehistoric roots.