New Historian

New Treasure Trove of Cave Lion Bones Discovered

European Cave lion

<![CDATA[A treasure trove of around 500 bones from the long-extinct giant cave lion has been discovered in the Ural Mountains, causing a wave of excitement to rush through the Russian archaeology community. Discovered in the republic of Bashkiria in an excavation deep within Imanai Cave, the haul of cave lion bones were found alongside several prehistoric weapons and the skull of a cave bear that had been skewered by an ancient spear. However, there were no indications that the cave had ever hosted a group of humans as far as a a permanent shelter. Pavel Kosintsev, a senior researcher from the Russian Academy of Science’s Urals branch of the regional Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, reported that there could be many more bones and bone fragments to be found after the collection has been sorted. The scientist added that it’s a unique situation to find such a large cache of giant cave lion remains, stating that this could be the only such discovery of its kind in the entire world. Kosintsev, who was quoted by The Siberian Times as stating that it was atypical for lions to go so deep into such a cave system, remarked that the remains were found around 100 meters from the entrance in the depths of Imanai Cave. Archaeological finds in the past that have identified isolated remains deep inside cave systems have been thought to be lost cubs or lions that had been sick or injured. In comparison, the researcher theorizes that this particular cave could have been a prehistoric sanctuary, with the lions being brought to the cave purposefully by ancient man, perhaps as part of some religious or spiritual rite. There is evidence for such cave sanctuaries in other regions, such as finds in Austria and in the Czech Republic, said Kosintsev. The discovery of the cave bear skull also reinforces this theory, as there’s no evidence that exists indicating prehistoric man hunted cave bears in the Urals. Additional findings include Mousterian stone spearheads – a full ten – which dwarfs the two that have been discovered in the Urals to date. The researcher expressed puzzlement at finding the spearheads, as there is no other sign of any human activity within the cave. The lack of any detritus left behind by ancient people that could have used the cave as a home lends additional credence to Kosintsev’s hypothesis of Imanai Cave having been used as a sanctuary or for some religious purpose that precluded permanent occupation by humanity. So far these most recent archaeological finds have not been dated in any way. However, the cave floor’s upper layer has been dated to approximately 30,000 years old according to initial analysis. The more recent findings, which were found in lower layers, could be dated to as much as 60,000 years old or even older, making it the most ancient sanctuary in the world if this theory proves correct. Researchers are waiting for Saint Petersburg’s Herzen State Pedagogical University for dating results. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: Mauricio Antón ]]>

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