Archaeologists from Kraków participating in a joint Polish-Slovak research project have found evidence of human presence from over 10 thousand years ago in a cave in Belianske Tatras mountain range. This is the first discovery of traces of prehistoric human settlement in the region where many researchers have unsuccessfully searched for them since the late 19th century.
The Polish-Slovak research started in early July in a cave at Kobyli Wierch slope next to Huczawa valley. The project, funded from the grant of the National Science Centre, is carried out under the supervision of Prof. Paweł Valde-Nowak from the JU Institute of Archaeology and Dr hab. Marian Sojak from the Institute of Archaeology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Nitra. The team includes students and doctoral candidates.
The recent work focused on investigating part of the layers in the cave chamber and its entrance. It resulted in finding several dozen stone heads of hunting weapons, fully or partially preserved, including relics typical of the late Magdalenian culture (12-13 thousand years BC). Some of them were excavated from the remains of a hearth. The upper layers included fragments of 15-16th century pottery as well as coins from the World War II period.
The cave at Huczawa is the first and so far the only known Tatra cave with traces of prehistoric human settlement, which had been unsuccessfully searched for since the late 19th century. The fruitless excavations carried out several times before the Second World War in Magurska cave in the Polish Tatras seemed to have put an end to speculations about Paleolithic human presence in Tatra caverns. The finds in Huczawa cave suggest that it was inhabited by late ice age hunters for a relatively long time.
The traces of Magdalenian culture in Slovakia have only been found in the north of the country, in upper Poprad river basin. The same expedition discovered the first site belonging to this culture in Stará Ľubovňa in Spiš region. Similar discoveries had earlier been made in south Poland – in Sromowce Wyżne-Kąty, Podczerwone, and Nowa Biała.