Kermanshah, near Taq-e-Bostan.
|Dimension:||A=1,600 m asl.|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
Fereidoun Biglari, Saman Heydari (2001):
Do-Ashkaft: a recently discovered Mousterian cave site in the Kermanshah Plain, Iran,
Antiquity, Vol 75, No: 289, September 2001, pp 487–488.
|Address:||Do-Ashcaft Cave, District 7, Kermanshah, Kermanshah Province, Tel: +98-.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1996||first visited by Iranian researchers Fereidoun Biglari and Saman Heydari-Guran.|
Do-Ashcaft Cave is a Middle Paleolithic cave site located at the mountain side on the northern border of Kermanshah, the province capital. Today we depend on the opinion of Google, and Google has a pin on this location which says Two Amazing Caves. Actually there are two huge cave portals or shelters facing south, towards the city Kermanshah. At the foot, only 100 m away the Kuhestan Park or پارک کوهستان کرماشان (Kermashan Mountain Park) begins with a cemetery, followed by parking lots, toilets, paved streets and even trees. It seems this pale is quite popular, and we guess that's not related to the cemetery. The Do-Ashcaft Cave is definitely popular, there is a signposted trail from the park to the cave entrance, but it is 300 m higher than the park. We guess most people come to enjoy the trees, and a few will walk into the nearby gorge, along the dammed lake and the artificial waterfall.
The two cave entrances are quite impressive. As the caves are just shelters you do not even need a lamp for the visit. In front of the entrance is a plateau which offers a great view, definitely a good thing for a group of hunter-gatherers. Another pro is the permanent spring nearby, and so is the rhyolite outcrop near the cave. Most of the stone tools found here are of this rock-type, so it's a nearby source of material. The eastern cave was used as a temporary settlement by hunting groups. It was probably inhabited by Neanderthals during the Middle Paleolithic 120,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Such a cave was never discovered, at least we have no idea who or why it was. For this reason we normally interpret the first written account as discovery, even if we know that other people have visited the site before. But if you leave no knowledge, your visit is in vain. It seems this cave was ignored for very long, also well known, and the first who actually wrote about their visit wer the Iranian researchers Fereidoun Biglari and Saman Heydari-Guran. They visited the cave in 1996 and for four years they returned monthly to collect anything they could find on the cave floor.
Obviously this is a strange way to do archaeological survey, the obvious attempt would be an excavation. But often this is not possible, not allowed or simply discouraged by the owner. So collecting loose material is a cheap and non-invasive alternative. The site is used as a shelter by goat herders, especially during winter, and so the floor is full of koat excrement. On the other hand the hoofs dig into the upper layer of the cave sediment and bring stuff to the surface which had been close. And so this simple method resulted in a rich collection of Middle Paleolithic lithic artifacts, such as side-scrapers and a Mousterian point, animal bones, like a fragment of a right mandible of an adult specimen and an upper third right molar of a sub-adult caprinae or goat-antelope.
And another thing they did, they actually surveyed an area of about 7 km² including 14 caves and rock-shelters. The findings provide a paleo-environmental sequence for the region from the late Middle Pleistocene to the Holocene.
The main chamber of the cave is 23 m long and 15 m wide.