|The Denisov cave.|
It is not for nothing that the cave was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Many artifacts which have been found in this cave are so significant for science that they can be compared with the artifacts of Egyptian pyramids.
Archeologists started to explore the Denisova Cave in the 1980s, after scientists had found out that many thousands years ago, the region of Altay had a climate very favorable to people, and ancestors of the Homo Sapiens species lived here.
However, when archeologists were only starting to explore the Denisova Cave about 30 years ago, they didn’t expect it to turn out to be a practically unlimited treasury of archeological artifacts of various epochs. The older artifacts which were found here are about 280,000 years old.
It was decided to open a scientists’ camp near the cave. Later, the camp was turned into a large-scale scientific center with is own laboratory, where the objects found in the cave are thoroughly examined. Every year, about 100 archeologists and other scientists work in this camp.
The Denisova Cave is the oldest human dwelling in northern Asia that is currently known to scientists. Many generations of people lived in this cave for thousands of years because it was quite comfortable to live in. Archeologists have found 22 layers of sediment in the cave, which date back to various eras.
Sergey Isupov from the Russian Institute of Archeology and Ethnography says:
“The cave seems to be filled with artifacts. I doubt that scientists have ever found a similar amount of artifacts in one place anywhere else on Earth. Probably, the most interesting layer of sediment is the one which has received the number 11. This layer dates back to the transitional period between the middle Paleolithic Age to the upper Paleolithic Age. It is here where remains of humans of an earlier unknown species were found.”
On December 22, 2010, the Nature magazine published sensational news that before the appearance of the Homo sapiens, Siberia was populated with a species of humans which, until recently, had been unknown to science. The article in the magazine said that a genetic examination of two pieces of human remains, which have been found in the Denisova Cave, a part of a finger and a tooth, revealed that these remains belonged to an earlier unknown species of humans. This species, related to the Neanderthal, lived about 50,000 years ago.
Scientists from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk are more reserved in making sensational announcements. They say that it is only hypothetical that these remains belonged to an unknown species of humans. However, Novosibirsk scientists also agree that this hypothesis, if found true, may radically change our ideas about the origin of man.
As it was mentioned above, archeologists have been exploring the Denisova Cave for about 30 years already. However, they have explored only a very small part of its artifacts so far.
“Archeologists, as a rule, work slowly – maybe, too slow from the point of view of people who are far from the archeological science," Sergey Isupov says. “But they just have to work slowly, centimeter by centimeter, in order not to bring any harm to priceless historic artifacts. In fact, any archeological excavations at any historic sites does harm to the site. Archeologists have to work very carefully in order to ruin as little as possible. Besides, if they discover anything, they have to thoroughly record all the circumstances of when and where it was found. This, of course, also takes time.”
Many new sensational discoveries may probably be made in the Denisova Cave in the future. After scanning the cave with special equipment, geologists found out that its “big hall” and “galleries” are only a “threshold” of big cavities that are “hidden” deeper, and these cavities are full of layers of cultural sediments.