Cave Inn; December 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Wong; 3 Page(s)
From Croatia's capital city, Zagreb, Vindija cave is about a 90-minute drive through the rolling, rugged terrain of a northwestern region known as the Hrvatsko Zagorje. Today quaint cottages dot the countryside, the dwellings of farmers who coax corn and cabbages from the rocky soil. Thousands of years ago, however, Neanderthals inhabited these hills, and I have come to visit this cave that some of them called home.
The roads narrow as paleontologist Jakov Radovcic of the Croatian Natural History Museum and I approach Vindija, and the last 100 or so meters (about 330 feet) to the site have to be traversed on foot. "They chose a place near a spring," he observes, acknowledging the sound of trickling water that greets us as we step out of the car. A rock-strewn trail takes us into the woods and up a steep hill. Through the trees the landscape below is visible for a considerable distance. "The Neanderthals were trying to control the region," Radovcic remarks, adding that other Neanderthal shelters in Croatia bear similar strategic profiles: all are elevated, with a proximal water source.