Grotta dei Puntali

Grotta Armetta

Useful Information

Location: Via Grotte, 90044 Carini.
(38.150363, 13.156066)
Open: Only after appointment.
Fee: .
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=110 m, W=15 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Grotta dei Puntali, Riserva Naturale Integrale Grotta dei Puntali, Via Grotte, 90044 Carini PA, Tel: +39-328-704-5011.
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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2001 Nature Reserve created.


The Grotta dei Puntali (Puntali Cave) is a small cave which is famous for its palaeontological and archaeological finds. It has a total length of 110 m on two levels which are connected by shafts. The entrance is located on the hillside west of Carini overlooking the town. The site is closed by a fence, but it is possible to visit the cave with an appointment.

The most spectacular findings are the skeletons of dwarf elephants (Palaeoloxodon mnaidriensis). However, to see the bones you should actually visit the Geological Museum "GG Gemmellaro" in Palermo. According to recent research the elephants were cut off from Africa when the land bridge was flooded by the Mediterranean sea. Living on the island, the elephants adapted to the restricted resources by becoming smaller, which took only about 40 generations.

The excavations also revealed the Pleistocene bones of hippopotamus (Hippopotamus pentlandi), hyena (Crocuta crocuta spelaea), buffalo, and wild boar. The oldest human remains are 20,000 years old. Pottery shards, flint points, blades, scrapers, chisels, two milk jugs with wolf teeth decoration, jars, bottles, and decorated bowls were found. Also the remains of animals like aurochs (Bos primigenius) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) which were obviously prey. Quite exceptional are engravings on the left of the entrance chamber showing a grazing horse, a deer, and a partial figure of an ox. There are more engravings in the other caves Riparo del Fico and Shelter Armetta II. In Armetta III the engravings show abstract symbols wich are interpreted as two suns, created with radiating lines around two pre-existing holes.