Geological formation of the Aspri Petra cave
The Aspri Petra (White Stone) cave lies on Mount Zini, three kilometers south of the Town of Kefalos, to the west of Kefalos Bay, overlooking the sea from a height of 257 meters above sea level, in the Southwestern part of the island. The cave is located in a prominent position of this imposing mountain, with a magnificent view of the bay to the cape of Krikelo, and the nearby islands of Yiali and Nisyros. The cave is some 100-140 million years old and is what geologists call a Karst formation whereby the limestone is shaped through the dissolution of the bedrock.
Prehistoric findings in the Aspri Petra cave
The cave was explored and studied in June 1922 by the Italian archeologist Alessandro Della Sefe. The excavations brought to light the earliest habitation of the island, dated to the Late and Final Neolithic periods (5.300-4.000 BC), confirming human presence on the island from the Prehistoric times. Significant artifacts from the prehistoric period were found in this cave dating back to the early Age of Bronze (2900-2100 B.C.) and the ceramics discovered were transported to Rhodes. The Aspri Petra Cave’s findings date back to the Neolithic, Mycenaean, Geometric and Roman periods. The cave must have relived during the Geometric period (10th-8th century BC) as a place of worship of agrarian deities, and as such, it continued to exist up to the Roman times.
Two votive deposits were excavated, that are linked to the ritual use of the cave during historical times:
1) The earliest deposit dates from the Late Geometric Period (750-680 BC) and contains typical wheel-made cups and numerous tiny open vessels manufactured during these earlier rituals.
2) The second votive deposit dates from the end of the 5th to the end of the 4th century BC. The offerings indicate worship of the Nymphs, closely related to the wild nature surrounding the cave, and of Pan, the goat-footed god of caves, forests and mountain wilderness. The cave as a sanctuary flourished in the 5th and 4th century BC, as witnessed by the offerings of female busts, statuettes of young women and deities, water-carrying figurines (hydriaphoroi), chid nurturers (kourotrophoi), musicians, children and Sellinoi, that were found in the cave. The deities worshiped in the cave, at that time, were Pan, represented by a standing figure, and goddess Demeter, whose sanctuary was found in the bay of Kefalos.