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by Archaeology Newsroom

Τhe major Greek caves and the way they were explored

Foreign travellers were the first to explore Greek caves in modern years. Only in 1950 the Greek Speleologic Society was founded due to the initiative of Yannis Petrocheilos. Since then the systematic research and study of the caves began both for scientific and touristic purposes.

In Greece, where approximately 7.600 caves have been recorded, only one hundred are significant, since they present a special interest for tourism, archaeology, anthropology, palaeontology, biology, etc. The following caves have already been touristically promoted: Perama and Anemotrypa in the area of Ioannina, Epirus, Glyphada and Alepotrypa in Laconia, Droggorati and Melissani in Cephallonia Island, Hagios Georgios in Κilkis, Kokkines Petres in Petralona, Chalkidiki and Koutouki in Paeania, Attica, while others are now being promoted. Only a few caves present normal exploration conditions. The access to horizontal caves is often difficult for various reasons such as voluminous and dense decoration, narrow and low passes, etc. The exploration of precipices requires special outfit and equipment thus precipices with remarkable vertical depth, like Epos (437 m.) or Provatina (405 m.) have been conquered. Another difficult problem that the speleologists face are underground rivers. Prerequisites for their exploration are plastic air pumped boats and often a frog-man’s attire.

Ιn cave exploration the size of the unknown area cannot be anticipated for the time neccessary for its exploration therefore the speleologist must have great physical strength and resistance. Proper equipment also plays an important role in his pursuit. An outfit of durable material, a head protecting cap, waterproof boots and gloves, an electric head lamρ, a candle and a lighter for the detection of carbon dioxide and a handy first-aid kit. More specifically for the exploration of horizontal caves one needs a compass, a meter, notebooks and pens, a cord for depth measurements and a flash equipped camera; for precipices οne has to add special ropes, metallic stairs, rock nails, etc., while for under-ground rivers one must have a plastic boat, a pump, a frogman’s attire, etc.