The Petralona Cave in Chalkidiki (Western Makedonia) is situated about 1 km to the East of the homonymous village, on the western cliffs of the ancient Kalavros mountain (~700 m height), that the inhabitants of the region call Katsika. Cave’s geographic position is about 50 km to the SE of Thessaloniki, 12 Km to the East of Kallikrateia and another 50 Km to the West of Polygyros – Chalkidiki’s capital, in an altitude of about 300 meters from the level of sea. It was found in 1959 by the inhabitant of Petralona, Mr. Philippos Hatzaridis and it became well known all over the world in 1960, when the skull of Arhanthropos was found by another inhabitant of Petralona, Mr. Christos Sarrigiannidis.
The systematic excavations of the Cave began in 1965 by the founder of the Anthropologic Company of Greece, anthropologist professor Aris Paulianos. His researches proved that the Arhanthropos is about 700.000 years old, and this makes him the “oldest” European. This age was determined after the detailed analysis of stratigraphy (until today 28 geological layer have been revealed), and after studying the primitive and Paleolithic tools as well as the palaiofauna that were discovered in almost all the layers. Among the fossils of animals that have extinct the following are included: lions, hyenas, bears, panthers, elephants, rhinoceros, megakeroi, bison and various species of deer and hippo, and also 25 species of birds, 16 species of rodents and 17 species of bats.
Its internal temperature remains steady (circa 17 (+1) Celsius) all year long. On the right and left sides of the tunnel you can see displayed cases including stone and bone tools, as well as bones, jaws and teeth of different kinds of animals. The main volume of findings is exhibited in the Anthropological Museum which has been constructed right next to the cave. Signs of fire from burned bones have been traced in the “Mediterranean hall”. There are also ashes dating back to 700.000 B.C. representing the most ancient fire that humans had lit on Earth. (The original ashes are exposed in the Anthropological Museum). In order to verify the age, the contribution of nucleonic is very important. The materials that have been dated are bones, argil, stalagmites and ashes. These are fire traces – the oldest ones that human have ever lighted.