Location: 5 km from the River Sava.
Entrance Orientation: E
Entrance Altitude: 244 m asl
Cave Formation: Horizontal
Main Research Years: 1884; 1982; 1987
Occupation Eras and Dates: Palaeolithic - Middle Ages.
5120 +-130 BP;
4700 +- 200 BP;
2900 +- 120 BP;
Recent RC: 5485 +- 50 to 5340 +- 36 BP.
Bonsall, C., Horvat, M., McSweeney, K., Masson, M., Higham, T.F.G., Pickard, C., and Cook, G.T. 2007. Chronological and dietary aspects of the humans burials from Ajodvska cave, Slovenia. Radiocarbon 49 (2), 727-740.
Horvat M. 1989. Ajdovska jama pri Nemški vasi. Ljubljana: Znanstveni inštitut Filozofske fakultete. In Slovene.
Cave Description: Occupying an east-facing position in limestone hills 5 km from the River Sava, the cave has 2 entrances at 240 and 244 m asl respectively. Both these entrances lead along passages to a central chamber c.17 m in diameter.
Research Chronicles and Data: The site is well known for its burial remains, the majority of which were recovered in excavations by Milena Horvat between 1982 and 1987. The human bones occurred in a horizon ~10 cm thick, which was divided into 2 stratigraphic units (43 and 44). These stratiographic units were created on the basis of their colours and the differing amounts of charcoal present. Five distinct clusters of bones were identified, 4 in the south passage and 1 toward the rear of the main chamber. Bone preservation was generally poor and the crania were missing. Therefore, aging and sexing of the burials were based on surviving long bones and mandibles (Corrain and Capitanio 1991). The entire assemblage comprises a minimum of 31 individuals—15 adults (7 males and 8 females) and 16 children. On the basis of associated pottery and other archaeological finds, the burials were assigned to the Late Neolithic Alpine Lengyel culture, and this is broadly confirmed by radiometric 14C ages on charred plant material from the same archaeological horizon, which range from 5620 ± 130 (Z-1044) to 5120 ± 130 BP (Z-1042), with outliers of 4700 ± 200 BP (Z-1179) and 2900 ± 120 BP (Z-1603) (SrdoË et al. 1984, 1987, 1989, 1992; ObeliÊ et al. 1994). Of the 15 samples analyzed, only 10 produced collagen suitable for analysis. The 14C results all fall within a tightly constrained age range of 5485 ± 50 to 5340 ± 36 BP, confirming the archaeological dating to the Late Neolithic.
Bayesian modelling indicates that burial deposition began after 4340–4290 BC (68.2% probability) and that the burials represent a brief period of activity; total span is equivalent to 5–120 yr (95.4% probability).
Cave Uses: Burial (B.d) - Horvat interpreted it as a Neolithic ‘necropolis’ where bodies were exposed and defleshed remains later collected and redeposited around the cave with gendered grave goods (jewellery with women and weapons with men) and food. Refined chronology and dating suggests a shorter Late Neolithic usage as a Necropolis.