Grotta Lamalunga

Lamalunga Cave

Useful Information

Location: Near Altamura, S.P. 157 Altamura-Quasano (towards Pulo).
Open: All year Tue-Sun 9-13, 15:30-19:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 2.50, Reduced EUR 1.
Groups (25+): Adults EUR 2.25.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Replica Archaeological museum
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=40 m, VR=20 m.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: L'uomo di Altamura e la grotta di Lamalunga,
V. Pesce Delfino, E. Vacca (1994): Report of an archaic human skeleton discovered at Altamura (Bari), in the Lamalunga district, Human Evolution 9, 1-19.
Three-dimensional topographic survey of the human remains in Lamalunga cave (Altamura, Bari, Southern Italy),
Eligio Vacca, Vittorio Pesce Delfino (2004): Three-dimensional topographic survey of the human remains in Lamalunga cave (Altamura, Bari, Southern Italy) Collegium antropologicum, 2004, vol. 28, no1, pp. 113-119, Croatian Anthropological Society, Zaghreb, Croatia, ISSN 0350-6134
Eligio Vacca, Vittorio Pesce Delfino (2004): Three-dimensional topographic survey of the human remains in Lamalunga cave (Altamura, Bari, southern Italy), Department of Zoology, Anthropology Unit, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.
Address: Centro Visite della grotta di Lamalunga, Altamura, Tel: +360-339-6144164.
Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Altamura, Tel: +360-80-3146409.
L'uomo di Altamura scarl (G.A.L.), Piazza Resistenza, n.1, Altamura (Ba), Tel: +360-80-3106252, Fax: +360-80-3104497. Weekdays 10-13, 16-18.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


OCT-1993 Il Uomo discovered.


Grotta Lamalunga (Lamalunga Cave) is a small karst cave near Altamura, which was discovered in the 1980s. The entrance of Lamalunga Cave is located a few meters above the valley floor. The 40 m long cave is up to 20 m deep, a short central passage with numerous side branches. The floor of the cave is covered by animal bones conglomerated by dripstone deposits, the bones of deer, fallow deer, fox and horse have been found. A human skeleton was found in a small and narrow shaft in the far end of the cave. It is completely covered by a thick layer of bulbous calcite, also called cave coral. The bones form a pile with the skull on top, which is petrified upside town.

Dripstone grows slowly, so this speleothem was a clue that this skeleton is very old. As a matter of fact it dates back to about 130,000 years ago and is from an archaic Homo erectus similar to Neanderthal man (Homo neanderthalensis) who lived between 400,000 and 50.000 BP. The bones are perfectly preseved, and as such old remains are extremely rare, a discovery of enormous importance. However, the speleothemes make it almost impossible to remove the bones without destroying them. The scientists decided to leave all on site and explore it by the most modern surveying techniques available. Rather simple was the method how they determined the exact brain size of this man: the scientists filled the skull with polystyrene globes in situ and vacuumed them out again. So they just had to measure the volume of the polystyrene. Later the scientists surveyed the three-dimensional topographic distribution of the human remains. Three-dimensional spatial coordinates describing the collocation of the skeleton allowed the construction of a complete computer model. It revealed that the bones belonged to an adult male.

A main question is, how the bones got into the cave, by a flood which washed them into the cave, probably the body was buried here, or the hunter died inside the cave right where he was found. The computer model also revealed, that the bones are oriented in a way, that all are on the right location. This means the body was skeletized and fossilized on site and not transported by water, which would have destroyed the order of the bones. This research work was carried out by a research unit of the Programma Nazionale di Ricerca financed by the Ministero dell'Universita e della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica (MURST) between 1998 and 2000.

The tourist site called Grotta Lumalunga is not exactly a cave, it is a musem showing replicas of the cave and the skeleton. It is made as if the visitor would enter the real cave, so we call it a cave replica. There are also numerous multimedia displays allowing interactive work with the computer model of the skeleton.