Divje Babe

Divje Babe is a Karst cave and archaeological park overlooking the Idrijca River in Slovenia. It is noted for its Paleolithic remains, including the worked bone of cave bear known as the Divje Babe Flute, which has been interpreted as a Neanderthal musical instrument.[1]

Divje Babe
Inside Divje Babe I
Coordinates46°06′46″N 13°54′56″E
Length45 m (148 ft)
Cave survey15 m (49 ft)


The name Divje Babe (literally, 'wild women') refers to witches, which were often believed to live in caves.[2][3] The name therefore means 'Witch Cave'.


Divje Babe is located at 230 m (750 ft) above the valley of the Idrijca River. The Idrijca cuts through the Idrija Hills and Cerkno Hills, and opens to the Soča River.[4]


The cave site (Divje Babe I) was excavated from 1978 to 1986 by Mitja Brodar, and again from 1989 to 1995 by Ivan Turk and Janez Dirjec.[4] The excavations dug through 12 m (39 ft) of infilling consisting of 26 main sediment layers. Among the artifacts uncovered were Aurignacian finds, including a bone point (in layer 2 or 3) dated to around 35,000 years ago. Around eight layers from the Mesolithic have been excavated containing around 20 hearths, 600 stone tools and several bone artifacts.[4] Numerous skeletal remains of the cave bear have also been found.[1]

The Divje Babe Flute was found in layer 8, dated to the middle Paleolithic of 50,000 to 35,000 years ago.[4] It was in close vicinity to a hearth, indicating the presence of prehistoric people, probably Neanderthals.[4] The flute is a fragment of a thigh bone from a young cave bear with four recessed holes.[4] The interpretation of the artifact as a flute is controversial, has been subject of fierce debate and some research instead suggests that the holes are of animal origin, hyena teeth marks.[5]


  1. "Arheološki park Divje babe". Slovenian Tourist Board. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  2. Piškur, Milena (1965). "Pomenska analiza besede baba". Jezik in slovstvo. 10 (1): 6–15. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  3. Mihelič, Miha (2013). "Z lune na luno. Kamenodobni 'odmevi' v ustnem izročilu Zahodne Slovenije?". Archeo. 30: 67–98.
  4. Wallin, Nils Lennart; Merker, Björn; Brown, Steven (2001). The Origins of Music. MIT Press. pp. 237–9. ISBN 0262731436.
  5. "Was "Earliest Musical Instrument" Just a Chewed-Up Bone?". National Geographic. 31 March 2015.
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