Vindija Cave

Vindija Cave is an archaeological site located not far from the village of Donja Voća near Ivanec in Hrvatsko Zagorje. It was first mentioned in the mid-19th century, when Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski derived its name from the Roman name of the village of Vinundrija, near the village of Donja Voća. The cave was also described first by Dragutin Hirc and then by Dragutin Gorjanović Kramberger, who claimed that there was nothing to look for there because of the overlain. But a little later Vindija was discovered by Stjepan Vukovic, who had been doing research there for about thirty years, and then Mirko Malez, leading systematic research from 1974 to 1986. The layers are 9 m deep in Vindija and have deposited over a period of more than 150,000 years.

Archeologists found the traces of human habitation from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, through the Mesolithic, and found individual finds from the younger periods of prehistory and antiquity. Scientific analysis shows that the man lived only temporarily, more precisely seasonally, in Vindija, and this is confirmed by numerous remains of a cave bear, showing that the cave was often a bear's den. Nevertheless, this Croatian site has been included in the world archaeological literature for several reasons. Among the most important discoveries is the fact that, in addition to finding the remains of Neanderthals in older geological strata (dating to about 40,000 years before the present), their remains were also found in the younger strata. More specifically, these are the remains of the last Neanderthal people throughout Europe, about 33,000 years before the present, when Europe has long been inhabited by modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). This finding is important to us because it testifies to the possible coexistence of the two species. Also, the Vindija cave is well known in the scientific literature for another reason. Namely, from the found fossil remains of very late Neanderthals, the so-called fossil DNA was found, on the basis of which the Neanderthal genome was reconstructed, and was found to match at least in part with the genome of modern humans. Due to these important discoveries about the human past, today the Vindija Cave is protected as a monument of nature, archeologically, geologically and botanically.