Shanidar Cave

The archaeological spectacle called Shanidar Cave is located in the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq about 80 miles west of the southern tip of Iran's Lake Urmia.  The clos

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The archaeological spectacle called Shanidar Cave is located in the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq about 80 miles west of the southern tip of Iran's Lake Urmia.  The closest village is Zawi Chemi Shanidar. Shanidar Cave is a large triangular shaped opening in the side of the rugged Bradost Mountain. The Shanidar Cave has a high ceiling of about 45 feet, and a floor space of about 3,563 feet, making it a suitable natural shelter.

 

Shanidar Cave was home to some of the oldest known human relatives, the Neanderthals. A group of 8 adult and 2 infant Neanderthal skeletons was excavated from the Shanidar Caves in the 1950s by Ralph Solecki and his team of Columbia University students and local Kurdish assistants. The fossil remains are dated at between 65,000 and 35,000 years old. This important discovery shed new light on the Neanderthal people's society and habits, including burial practices and care for the sick and injured.[i]

 

Additionally, 35 Proto-Neolithic skeletal remains and associated burial goods dating to around 10,600 BC were found in the rear of Shanidar Cave. It was especially notable that even infants and children were buried with special burial article, indicating that parents in that age adored their children and believed in some kind of afterlife.[ii]

 

In modern times, before the arrival of Solecki and his team, local Sherwani Kurdish herdsmen were using the Shanidar Cave as a temporary winter lodging while grazing their goats nearby.[iii]

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[i] Owen Edwards. "The Skeletons of Shanidar Cave." Smithsonian Magazine. March 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-22.

 

[ii] K.E. Eduljee. "Cave Dwelling of Shanidar." Zoroastrian Heritage. Retrieved 2014-04-22.

 

[iii] K.E. Eduljee. "Cave Dwelling of Shanidar." Zoroastrian Heritage. Retrieved 2014-04-22.

Shanidar Cave is located to the northeast of Erbil. A car and the ability to walk on uneven terrain will be necessary to visit this site. A Kurdish tour guide can be arranged to make visiting the Shanidar Caves easier for tourists in terms of finding the landmark. There is no formal process for visiting the site and no museum guide.

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