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Franchthi Cave in Ermioni, Peloponnese: Franchthi Cave, close to Ermioni, is found near Koilada village and is the cave that has been recorded with the longest continuous inhabitation. According to the findings, it is believed that this cave witnessed human inhabitation through every phase of the Stone Age, beginning from about 20,000 BC to 3,000 BC. Excavations from 1967 to 1976 revealed debris and cultural finds from as early as the Upper Paleolithic. Apart from these dates obtained through radiocarbon dating, it is believed that the earliest findings date back to the Pre-Neolithic Era.
The prehistoric inhabitants are considered to have probably been hunters and farmers. Animal bones and seeds found from the Paleolithic Phase indicate the knowledge of animal hunting and agriculture. Multi-purpose cutting tools and a small scraper for removing flesh from hides were amongst the tools in use.
The first human skull is dated to sometime in the middle-Mesolithic period. The skull belonged to a 25-year-old male who had apparently succumbed to injuries arising from blows to his head. However, the most innovative and remarkable finding from this period was the discovery of millstones made of andesite, probably ferried across the sea from the Saronic Gulf. Advanced development in the domestication of animals like sheep and goats, foodstuffs such as wheat, barley and lentil, and the appearance and usage of polished stone tools characterized inhabitation in the Franchthi Cave in the Early Neolithic Era.
Pottery, so far absent, began in this period as did ritualistic burials. A shift in trends emerged during the Middle Neolithic, marked by fire-baked pottery. The Late Neolithic is defined mostly by the change in the painting style from matte to lustrous. The Final Neolithic was characterized by unpainted pottery with oddly shaped handles and a change in preference for plastic over clay. The cave's definitive feature is that it provides an insight into the history of the world and mankind. The well-preserved state of the cave and its findings bear testament for the progress made by the mankind over millennia.
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