The Risovača cave is located on the hill of the same name as you enter the town of Aranđelovac, 76 km from Belgrade. Around 150 m is open to visitors and the cave is of interest in the study of archaeology, prehistoric life and speleology.
Research at Risovača began in the 1950s, and a great many ice-age animal bones have been discovered there, as well as stone and bone tools. The remains of human skeletons have not been found as the cave is situated within an old quarry – during mining operations the entrance section of the cave was destroyed, where the richest cultural layers were to be found.
Animal remains found here date back to the last, fourth ice age, their age estimated at around 100,000 years. During this time there were major climate changes which precipitated migrations of animal herds from ice-bound central Europe towards southern Europe and onwards, to northern Africa. At that time the territory of what is today Serbia was populated by Eurasian steppe fauna which is why most of the animal bones found in Risovača belonged to steppe animals, which would have been heading from the Pannonian Plain towards the interior of Serbia. In terms of the number of remains found, the most common is the cave bear, followed by the wild horse, wild ass, cave hyena, fox and cave lion. Smaller amounts of bone fragments of other ice-age mammal species have been found in Risovača such as badger, wild boar, rabbit, woolly rhinoceros, mammoth and others.
The Old Stone Age or Palaeolithic period was the earliest age of human existence. The Risovača cave has been turned into a kind of underground museum of the Palaeolithic Age. Figures representing a family gathered around the fire can be seen in the cave, its members carrying out common tasks of the day. One man is returning from the hunt, another is chipping at a stone to fashion a weapon, a woman is bringing wood for the fire and a male figure is smashing a bone by hand to make a weapon with.
The preserved stone artefacts (a spike, an axe, scrapers for working with leather and fur, a chisel) and bone (a fastener for joining items of leather clothing, an awl and a dagger) suggest manufacture by prehistoric Neanderthal man, whose primary activity was hunting – i.e. an intelligent creature who made tools with a specific purpose.
The archaeological materials uncovered in Risovača were the first scientific evidence to confirm the existence of prehistoric cultures south of the Sava-Danube boundary. Because of the significance of the cave as a prehistoric archaeological site, where evidence of the culture and oldest habitats of Palaeolithic man in the Balkans are found, the Risovača cave is protected as a natural monument.
INFORMATIONAranđelovac National Museum Mišarska 19, 34300 Aranđelovac tel: +381 (0)34 712-415 www.muzej-arandjelovac.org