Beston Cave

Useful Information

Location: Khalan, Erbil Governorate.
(36.7079156, 44.3928246)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=100 m, W=40 m, H=10 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Beston Cave, Tel: +9647504860284
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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1934 discovered and excavated by archaeologist Henry Wieland
1950 excavated by the archaeologists Fouad Safar and Henry Field from the University of Chicago.


The كهف بستون (Beston Cave), in Kurdish اەڕەمتی بێسمتوین, is actually a karst cave with some nice speleothems. There are numerous transliterations like Bastoun Cave, Bastun Cave, Bestoon Cave, or Baston Cave. The name is derived from the Kurdish word for pilar, as the cave has numerous pilars. It is not spectacular at all, but they say it's the oldest caves of Kurdistan dating back to the Paleolithic era and the era of the Neanderthals. Others say it was the oldest of its kind in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, as it dates back to 10,000 years ago. And it is the largest cave as it can accommodate thousands of people. Also, the water has such a high content of minerals that it is completely unfit for drinking. The documentation on this cave is complete nonsense. It was written by complete idiots and is not simply wrong, it is nonsensical and absurd.

As a result, we do not actually have information on the cave, but if we sorted out the weird stuff, what remains is the following. This cave was discovered by the archaeologist Henry Wieland in 1934. He returned in 1950 for another excavation, accompanied by Fouad Safar. They discovered neolithic remains, as far as we know, the site has no Neanderthal remains, so the archaeological remains are rather young. The age of the cave is much older, obviously, but as far as we know, there was never any research on this topic. There was as far as we know, no speleological exploration, and there is no survey, so it's impossible to say how big it is. What we can see on the pictures on the web and the numerous videos, is that it is a small cave, probably only a single chamber. The entrance is quite wide, the ceiling is 6 to 8 m high. The size is as far as we can say in the tiny section, though not in the very tiny section.

The cave was only accessible after a long walk, several kilometers, but recently a road was built called Bradost Mountain Road. The cave is located in the Bradost mountain, and this road connects several tiny villages. So why dit we list this rather unspectacular cave? Because it was developed as a tourist site by the government. They built the road, a small car park, some unspecified buildings, and a stone staircase to the cave entrance. No development inside though. The cave is small, horizontal, and easy to visit, but lamps are strongly recommended.