Elenev Cave

Eleneva Cave, Russia, Krasnoyarsk Krai
Eleneva Cave, Russia, Krasnoyarsk Krai
Eleneva Cave, Russia, Krasnoyarsk Krai

On the bank of the Yenisei River, 20 m south of the city of Krasnoyarsk in Russia, there is a rock “Guard Bull”. It is clearly visible from the village of Ovsyanka, located almost opposite the rocky cliff. In the late 1980s, both the village and the rock itself became known overnight far beyond the then Soviet Union. And the reason for this fame was a large triangular cave with access to the Yenisei, discovered in a rock at a height of 5 m above the shore. After examining it, scientists made a sensational statement that ancient people lived in the cave for 9, and possibly more centuries. The researchers named the cave after a Krasnoyarsk mathematician who was engaged in the study of local caves in pre-revolutionary times. Since then, the Elenev Cave has appeared on the bank of the Yenisei River.

The shelter of the ancient people itself is quite small, but high. The width of the Elenev Cave is about 4 m with a height of 2 times greater, the length from the entrance to the back wall is about 23. Due to its high position above the shore, the cave does not flood, and a huge rock canopy over the top of the shelter protects it from winds, snow and rain. Therefore, the cave was always dry and relatively warm. In addition, the shelter found quite well protected the ancient people from the wild animals that lived next to them and helped to stand against possible enemies from another tribe. The found artifacts, as well as animal bones and human remains, impressed scientists.

According to the carbon analysis, the objects found belonged to the ancient period. But even more puzzling to scientists was the study of human bones: they were damaged in the form of notches, left by human hands, and not by the teeth and claws of wild predators. Such injuries on the bones could have been left either at the time of their death, or immediately after death. The nature of the notches indicated that the bodies of people immediately after their death were dismembered with stone axes, which left scratching notches on the bones.

In addition, some of the bones were burned. Finally, the cave was almost completely devoid of human spines. All these facts could only indicate one thing: that the people who lived on the banks of the Yenisei River were most likely cannibals. It is not yet clear what exactly caused them to eat people like themselves. It could be the custom of dealing with an enemy by eating them to gain strength.
But cannibalism could be caused by unprecedented hunger and lack of other food. In such a situation, the more civilized people of the twentieth century did not disdain to eat the weak and defenseless. Another mystery for scientists was the relatively small number of human remains. If there were several thousand animal bones here, then the human bones belonged to only 5 people of different genders and ages. At the same time, a large number of artifacts indicated that a much larger number of people lived in the cave for a significant period of time.
Where are the other burials, while scientists can not say. According to the found household items, as well as traces of animal bones, including large roe deer, it can be assumed that ancient people were mainly engaged in hunting. A lot of pottery and several cult items were found in the cave, including an unusual figure of a 2-headed elk carved from bone.

Пещера Еленева, памятник культуры и истории
Пещера Еленева, памятник культуры и истории

After conducting an anthropological analysis of the human remains, the scientists found that all the people in the cave had mixed features of Caucasians and Mongols.
Most likely, the ancient hunters used the statuette for successful hunting, but perhaps they also used it as a totem. In addition to household items and religious purposes, an incomprehensible object from a mammoth tusk was found in the cave. Its purpose is still not clear to researchers. However, the mystery remains not only its use, but also the material from which it is made, namely: the tusk of a mammoth. The fact is that the product itself dates back to about 3000 years BC. But according to paleontology, mammoths on the territory of Siberia were not found already in the 10th millennium BC.
The tusks could not be preserved in the ground either: unlike Yakutsk, there is no permafrost on the territory of the Krasnoyarsk Territory that can preserve tusks for several millennia. The bone for 7000 years should have been quite badly destroyed, but the nature of the incisions on the product indicates a good preservation of the mammoth bone. In this case, there is an assumption: perhaps it is not the ancient people who lived on the territory.
Just as mysterious is the purpose of this object: they can neither eat, nor craft, nor cook, they can only look at it. However, to assume the presence of a calendar in the cannibals version is quite bold.

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