Ancient Civilizations: Extraordinary Caves of the Underworld

These sacred places are home to some of the most spectacular geological formations around the world and these are just the beginning.

Caves are found throughout the world, but only a portion of them have been explored and documented by cavers. These sacred places are home to some of the most spectacular geological formations around the world and these are just the beginning.

Throughout history, primitive civilizations have made use of caves for shelter, burial tombs, or as religious sites. Since artifacts placed in caves are protected from the harsh climate and scavenging animals, this means caves are an archaeological treasure for knowledge about these people.

Reed Flute Cave

The Reed Flute Cave is located at the Guangming Hill in the northwestern outskirts of the city. The cave is full of an immense number of stalactites, stalagmites, and rocks in all shapes and sizes. The cave is about 240 meters long.



The first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date from the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. during the Gupta period. The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, have had a substantial artistic influence.

Melissani Caves, Kefalonia

In Greek mythology, Melissani was the cave of the nymphs. The cave features a lake that is surrounded with foliage and forests. The cave is located east of the mountains of Evmorfia and Agia Dynati.

Sea Caves Apostle Islands, Lake Superior

Candelaria Caves

The Candelaria Caves are located in an archaeological region typically known for its lack of large-scale ceremonial architecture.  In fact, only one small temple has been found at Cancuen, while the other large site in the region, Raxruha Viejo, lacks temples completely.  Instead, it appears that they were using the mountain-caves which mark the region as “tailor-made” temple pyramids.  The caves are also one of the “birthplaces” of the Pasión-Usumacinta river structure, as the Río Candelaria, one of its tributaries, passes through the 4 principal caves.  In fact, the river passes in and out of the cave system 7 times, which, “if current theories about the validity of applying ethnohistoric documents (in this case, the Popol Vuh) to the Classic Maya would also have been reminiscent of the “Seven Caves, Seven Canyons” of the creation myth.”

Cave of Hams

Situated at Porto Cristo, in the east of Majorca, the Cave of Hams is renowned throughout the world for its delicately ramified dripstone formations. The unsurpassed exquisiteness of the Caves is heightened by the artistic illumination created by Lorenzo Caldentey, son of the discoverer.

Caves at Keri

The Caves at Keri are located on the southwest coast of Zakynthos (Zante) The Blue Caves, the Bat cave, the Seal Cave and several others, were created by the erosion of the rocks. They are impressive and the fluctuation of colors inside and outside the caves is marvelous.

Kongshan Baiyun Cave

The Kongshan Baiyun Cave is located to the west of the Lincheng County Seat, 50 kilometers away from Xingtai City. The local geography has created great cave formations. In this over 4,000 square meters cave, there are five interconnected halls and over two hundred scenes in which the stalactite, the stalagmite, the sheet, the stone waterfall can be seen. Furthermore, the ancient stalagmite group found on the ridge of the Kongshan Hill is unique in China and even rare in the world, for there has not been a similar discovery in other countries. They are very valuable for the research on the ancient climate, crust, and geological changes.

Bhaja Caves

The Bhaja Caves, near the Karla Caves, are a group of 18 rock-cut caves dating back to 200 BC. The caves are located near Lonavala and Karli in the western state of Maharashtra between the cities of Mumbai and Pune in India. There are a group of 14 stupas, five inside and nine outside the caves. A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, once thought to be places of Buddhist worship, typically the remains of a Buddha or saint.

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24 Responses to “Ancient Civilizations: Extraordinary Caves of the Underworld”
  1. Deadheaddave Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Great stuff Lauren,

    I was totally unaware of Apostle Island.

  2. nobert soloria bermosa Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 6:44 am

    interesting caves

  3. southsudanese Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 7:19 am

    this was very interesting…thanks

  4. BC Doan Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Incredibly beautiful and extraordinary caves. Just wonderful for my morning read..

  5. Bozsi Rose Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Well done! Excellent pics!

  6. valli Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Fascinating…excellent pictures too.

  7. Melissa Joyce Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Wow! The Bhaja Caves were really amazing. It’s hard to imagine that these beautiful works of art were created so long ago.

  8. Ronald Marbles Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I don’t normally like caves, but the Reed Flute (the 1st) captivated me and I would love to see it with my own eyes.

  9. Santiago Stoetzel Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Breath taking pictures……bookmarking this page…Thanks!

  10. Kiki Stamatiou Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    I really enjoyed this article. It’s so interesting, what with all the details about the caves, such as their history. I also enjoyed the vast beautiful pictures. My most favorite pictures are the ones about the Caves at Keri. Although all the caves in all the pictures are breath taking, I found the Caves at Keri to have a rich dramatic quality that appeals to my senses. Thank you for sharing them. I too have work published on the Triond website, published under my pen name Joanna Maharis which is also my USER name.

    Take Care,

    Kiki Stamatiou (Joanna Maharis)

  11. Chris Stonecipher Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I would love to take a boat ride through Melissani Caves, Kefalonia.
    It is hard to imagine caves surviving centuries. Great Piece.

  12. jo oliver Says...

    On September 21, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Wow! I am in awe. This is amazing. Your pics are so vivid, but I would love to see all of these in person.

    I went through this cave in TN where you go out into this lake inside the cave and then they shut off all the lights…freaky!!

    Great work Lauren.

  13. Liane Schmidt Says...

    On September 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Love this article! Wonderful pictures – wonderful work!



    -Liane Schmidt.

  14. Leo Reyes Says...

    On September 23, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Very beautiful caves. Nice article.

  15. RJ Evans Says...

    On September 23, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Great stuff – there have been a few too many Hollywood films about caves and it is about time that their reputation was rehabilitated! Excellent job!

  16. Lost in Arizona Says...

    On September 25, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Stunning photography. I used to love exploring the caves around here with my dad as a kid. It brings back a lot of memories.

  17. goodselfme Says...

    On September 28, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    This is the only way I’d ever see any of these. I have clostrophobia even if it is open on one end. These are gorgeous shots and well described by you.

  18. Hein Marais Says...

    On October 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    WOW! These pictures are amazing.

  19. Enzo & Kaz Silvestri Says...

    On October 21, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Spectacular Pics and descriptions

  20. jessica Says...

    On June 5, 2009 at 7:24 am

    nice but not the greatest

  21. Lauren Axelrod Says...

    On June 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    So Jessica, give me an example of the best. I think they are all equally beautiful in their own right, so it’s hard to distinguish a blue ribbon winner.

  22. Mark Gibbons Says...

    On August 21, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Magical, awe-inspiring, you have captured the essence of the earths heart. Thank you Lauren for sharing such spectacular beauty. I think i love you! Your pics are first-class. Stay adventureous! Take Care, peace and love x

  23. TOE Says...

    On September 5, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    bezzzerr mate mazin pics what the real world mean to me proper true :D :D hope 2 c more soon buddy

  24. Chander Says...

    On March 19, 2010 at 7:28 am

    It’s amazing to know about the ancient buddhist relics dated way back to 200BC. They are marvellous and wonderous creations by the people who lived so long ago. Their creativity and architecture should be spread across the world.

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