Entrance Orientation: N
Entrance Altitude: 435 m asl
Cave Formation: RockShelter
Cave Map: N/A
Main Research Years: 1979; 1985; 2001
Occupation Eras and Dates: 8400-7900 BP; 7600-7200 BP; 6600-6000 BP
Leben, F. (1983). Mala Triglavca. Elaborat: Izkop 1983. Manuscript at the Archive of the Institute of Archaeology at ZRC-SAZU (No. 175). Ljubljana: ZRC-SAZU, Institute of Archaeology.
Leben, F. (1988). Novoodkrite prazgodovinske plasti v jamah na Krasu. Porocˇ ilo o Raziskovanju Paleolita, Neolita in Eneolita v Sloveniji, 16, 65–76.
Mlekuz, D., Budja, M., Payton, R., and Bonsall, C. 2008. “Mind the Gap”: Caves, Radiocarbon Sequences, and the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Europe – Lessons from the Mala Triglavcka rockshelter site. Geoarchaeology: An International Journal 23 (3), 398-416.
Cave Description: The cave was formed in the limestone rock bed. The cave is a remnant of the ancient cave system of the river Reka.
Research Chronicles and Data: Excavations were undertaken by France Leben in 1979 and 1985 who excavated the western half of the rockshelter to a depth of ca. 4m below the cave floor, the excavation and recording was carried out based on 2m grid squares and horizontal spits of 20cm. There was no sieving or flotation, and the results were never fully published.
Five stratigraphic layers were later described, as these were easy to determin from the layers shown in the published diagram. In the central part of the cave, the diagram appears to show 7 layers marked I - VII.
The lowermost layer (VII or 5) was described by Leben (1988) as “autochthonous red clay with rubble.” Archaeologically sterile, it was interpreted as Pleistocene in age. The overlying layers were attributed by Leben to the Holocene. Layers III-VI were based on small differences in color and stoniness with ash lenses occurring throughout.
Layer 4 was assigned to the Mesolithic based on the presence of microliths and an absence of pottery. This layer also contained bone artifacts, including mattocks and piercers, and fragmentary remains of wild animals (mainly deer). Layer 3 contained Neolithic pottery as well as stone and bone tools. The faunal assemblage from this layer was dominated by the bones of wild animals, but approximately one-third were those of domesticated animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, and dogs. At the upper boundary of layer 3, Leben (1988) reported finding Eneolithic and EBA pottery.
Layers 1 and 2 at the top of the sequence were described in Leben’s field notes as consisting of “rubble and humus,” with layer 2 reported as having a greater stone content. Pottery recovered from these layers was interpreted as belonging to various periods from LBA to modern.
In the 2001 excavation, whist recording sections of Leben’s trench, the excavators described 7 layers roughly corresponding to 7 layers apparent in published diagram. Significant soil disturbance had affected the cave deposits. The layers were distinguished by testing pH levels of soils and relating to lithological analysis.
At a depth of 186 cm, a much darker humus layer was encountered. This was black in colour and is interpreted as a buried surface with a larger organic carbon content, possibly with finely divided charcoal. The colour suggests that the addition of organic material by humans had occurred in this layer. This layer also contained common burned and unburned bone fragments.
In one place in the central part of the section, this dark layer rested directly on lighter grayish, extremely calcareous material. This very porous but massive material compressed easily and was non-sticky, indicating a high carbonate or ash content. In places, firmer and denser areas coincided with the presence of small nodules of calcium carbonate. The much less stony character of this feature suggests some kind of pit infill.
Eight samples from bones of large mammals were submitted to the Poznan lab by the excavators. A further 12 samples were taken from individual antler and bone artefacts by using high-speed steel drills and submitted to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. The samples submitted to Oxford weighed between 200 mg and 620 mg, while those submitted to Poznan were fragments weighing between 300 mg and 1200 mg. The radiocarbon dates, indicate frequent use of the cave from 8400 yr B.P. to at least 3700 yr B.P. The dates fall into three distinct clusters (8400–7900, 7600–7200, and 6600–6000 yr B.P.) with some outliers. However, the clusters as well as the gaps in the sequence (7900–7600 yr B.P., 7200–6600 yr B.P.) could be the result of the sampling.
Cave Uses: Agropastoral (A.a) - Neolithic animal penning