Caveman, oh!, oh!, oh! (III)

Caves occupy incongruous positions in both our culture and our science. The oldest records of modern human culture are the vivid cave paintings from southern France and northern Spain, which are in some cases more than 30,000 years old (Chauvet, et al. 1996). Yet, to call someone a “caveman” is to declare them primitive and ignorant. Caves, being cryptic and mysterious, occupied important roles in many cultures. For example, Greece, a country with abundant karst, had the oracle at Delphi and Hades the god of death working from caves. People are both drawn to and mortified by caves. Written records of cave exploration exist from as early as 852 BC (Shaw, 1992). In the decade of the 1920’s, which was rich in news events, the second biggest story (as measured by column inches of newsprint) was the entrapment of Floyd Collins in Sand Cave, Kentucky, USA. This was surpassed only by Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic (Murray and Brucker, 1979).

Ira D. Sasowsky and John Mylroi
in Studies of Cave Sediments - Physical and Chemical Records of Paleoclimate (2007)

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