Archaeology is the scientific study of the history of humanity and its various cultures. Archaeologists keep history alive by digging up the past. They study found objects that ancient people created or used. The objects, called “artifacts”, give us a glimpse into the life of our distant ancestors.
Many caves are stable environments, safe from the wind and weather that slowly remove evidence of human activities on the surface. With the constant temperatures and humidities in caves, and protection from disturbance by plants and animals, caves preserve fragile materials that would have been destroyed on the surface long ago. Ancient paintings, clothing, baskets, and food are only a few of the fragile and important materials that would have been lost if not for caves.
Archaeological discoveries and studies show that human history is intertwined with caves. Caves have served humanity as places to create, discover, worship, shelter, and recreate.
Many cultures, past and present, have a concept of an underworld. Cave entrances serve as doorways between the surface and subsurface, playing critical roles in dozens of religions’ stories. Caves preserve many of these stories. Caves are humanity’s first books. Their walls serve as pages on which humankind’s oldest stories were drawn or carved. Epic hunts, creation myths, and political rituals graced cave walls for thousands of years. Between these stone pages on cave floors, humanity’s first sculptures were found. Today, culturally significant art and artifacts have been replaced sadly by graffiti and trash.