Potok Cave

Potok Cave[1][2] (Slovene: Potočka zijalka or Potočka zijavka[3]) is a cave in northern Slovenia, declared a high-elevation archaeological and paleontological site, occupied approximately 35,000 years[4] BP (before present) by anatomically modern humans of the Aurignacian culture during the Upper Paleolithic. The cave is named after the Potok Farm in Podolševa.[5][6] The Slovene term zijalka or zijavka refers to a flat-bottomed cave with a gaping mouth on a cliff face.[6][7] Systematic excavations were carried out from 1928 through 1935 by Slovenian archaeologist Srečko Brodar.[8]

Potok Cave
Potočka zijalka
Entrance to Potok Cave
location in Slovenia
Locationabove Solčava
Regioneastern Karawanks Slovenia
Coordinates46°26′56″N 14°40′07″E
Typelimestone karst
Length115 m (377 ft)
Width40 m (130 ft)
MaterialTriassic limestone
PeriodsUpper Paleolithic
Associated withPaleo-humans


The cave is located in the eastern Karawanks in northern Slovenia, on the southern slope of Mount Olševa above Solčava, at an elevation of 1,675 m (5,495 ft) in the Triassic limestone.[8] It is 115 m (377 ft)[9] long and varies from 17 m (56 ft) wide at the mouth to 40 m (130 ft) wide in the interior.[9] Its entry opens toward the south.[8]


There are two explanations of its role. According to the original explanation, the cave was a hunting station. According to the newer one, it was a ritual place.[8]


After amateur excavations by Josef Gross, a medical student from Austria, the area was bought by the Museum Society of Celje. Systematic excavations were carried out on its behalf by archaeologist Srečko Brodar, starting in 1928[10] and continuing until 1935.[9]

The finds from eight layers excavated from the cave included the bones of more than 40 animal species, including the cave bears, wolves, alpine marmots, hares, red foxes, weasels, lynx, red deer, chamois, and in particular, teeth of a muskox; as well as 123 arrowheads, a controversial bone flute, and one of the world's oldest sewing needles.[8][11]


In a village near the cave, a permanent exhibit is open for tourists at the Firšt Inn and Museum in the Logar Valley.[12] The other finds can be seen at the Celje Regional Museum. Unfortunately much of the collection was destroyed during World War II in 1945 Allied bombing raids.[9]

See also


  1. Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. 2014. World Clothing and Fashion: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Social Influence. New York: Routledge, p. 207.
  2. Dowson, Thomas. 2013. "Views from Ancient Doorways," Archaeology Travel.
  3. Bezlaj, France. 1961. Slovenska vodna imena, vol. 2. Ljubljana: SAZU, p. 337.
  4. "Potočka zijavka". Parc.si. Palaeolithic Research Centre. Archived from the original on 2012-10-03.
  5. Mišič, Franc. 1938. "O ledinskih in hišnih imenih okoli Solčave." Časopis za zgodovino in narodopisje 33(3/4): 191–201, p. 195.
  6. SlovLit: Potočka zijalka (in Slovene)
  7. Bezlaj, France et al. 2005. Etimološki slovar slovenskega jezika vol. 4. Ljubljana: SAZU, p. 411.
  8. Debeljak, Irena; Turk, Matija. "Potočka zijalka". In Šmid Hribar, Mateja. Torkar, Gregor. Golež, Mateja. Podjed, Dan. Kladnik, Drago. Erhartič, Bojan. Pavlin, Primož. Jerele, Ines. (eds.). Enciklopedija naravne in kulturne dediščine na Slovenskem – DEDI (in Slovenian). Retrieved 12 March 2012.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  9. Broda, Mitja. 1995. "Potočka zijalka." Enciklopedija Slovenije, vol. 9, Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, pp. 193–194.
  10. Brodar, Srečko, & Mitja Brodar. 1983. Potočka zijalka, visokoalpska postaja aurignacienskih lovcev. Ljubljana: SAZU, p. 12.
  11. Odar, Boštjan (2008). "A Dufour Bladelet from Potočka zijalka (Slovenia)" (PDF). Arheološki vestnik. 59: 13.
  12. Stalna razstava Potočka zijalka (Potok Cave Permanent Exhibit) (in Slovene)

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