Szelim cave

The Szelim cave (Hungarian: Szelim-barlang or Szelim-lyuk (Szelim hole), Bánhidai nagy barlang (Bánhidian big cave), Eperjes-barlang, Szemi-luki, Szemi-lyuka, Szelimluk barlang, Bánhidai-zsomboly, Szent Vit-barlang) is located in northwestern Hungary at the western margin of the Gerecse Mountains, 289 m (948 ft) above the Által-ér Valley near Tatabánya city. The cave interior is 45 m (148 ft) long and 14 m (46 ft) high. The site has been regularly frequented and used as a shelter by local villagers over the centuries, is easily accessible and its huge rectangular entrance features a memorial of the Turul.[1]

Szelim cave
Szelim cave
Location in Hungary
LocationGerecse Mountains, near Tatabánya
RegionKomárom-Esztergom County, Central Transdanubia, Hungary
Coordinates47°35′25″N 18°24′25″E
Length45 m (148 ft)
Height14 m (46 ft)
Materialkarst, limestone
PeriodsUpper Paleolithic
Site notes
Excavation dates1932, 1934
ArchaeologistsHubert Kessler, István Gaál


The karstic cave was formed during the Upper Triad, has undergone and will further undergo extensive corrosion. Meteoric water infiltrates the compact Mesozoic limestone and is going to carve cavities into the bedrock, solve the limestone and abrade the cavities with the debris and rocks.


The cave was recognized as an archaeological site only relatively late. In 1932 Hubert Kessler, the first promoter of speleological research, began excavations. The results of Kessler work encouraged István Gaál to start regular excavations. In 1934 the Natural History Research Council supplied - although insufficient - the financial means for further work. Remains of hearths, stoves, carvings, animal bones and human remains, some of which date to the era of Turkish invasions in early modernity were excavated.

The sediments are more than 12 m (39 ft) deep and rich in archaeological finds, that were extracted to the bedrock in a few months in most of the cave. More recent research results confirm the notion that human occupation in Szelim dates back as far as 200,000 years BP. Mousterian artefacts and stone tools discovered in the stratae date back to the Upper Paleolithic.

In 2013 the Hungarian Ministry of Interior declared the site a protected natural national asset.[2][1][3]

Legends of the cave

The cave is subject to several historical legends.

  • According to the oral tradition the population of 7 neighboring villages escaped to the depth of the earth during the Turkish wars from Szelim sultan's troops who devastated Transdanubia. Unfortunately, Turkish found the people who hid in the cave and they killed them by the smoke of the bonfire they pour to the opening of the cave.[4]
  • The population of the villages surrounding the refuge being looked for in the cave on the time of the Tartar attacks. When a little boy got thirsty then aloud started crying, his mother took it away the close to a source. The Tartars, who had the woman compelled to reveal the cache of the others, captured them however there.



  1. Dobosi, Viola T. (2003). Palaeolithic Man in the Altal-er Valley (PDF). Komárom-Esztergo County Museum Directorate. pp. 16–17. ISBN 9637110313. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  2. Zsolt Mester. "Mousterian industries in Hungary – 15 years later". Academia Edu. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  3. "The study and historic reconstruction of the sedimentary sequence, in the Szelim Cave (Tatabánya)" (PDF). Electronic Periodical Archives and Database. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  4. Tatabánya:Fotoalbum ISBN 963-8103-42-6
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