Introducing The Mystery Cave of Bones
This was not just another lost cave in the desert!!
The Story of the Cave
While enjoying the privilage of just being in the desert, we were offered to be shown an unusual cave. Walking out into the desert is the deepest experience day or night. On this occasion even the prospect of a long walk under a scorching sun did not deter us and we grabbed the chance.We hiked for several miles over the fairly flat top of the escarpment.
This averaged at about 550 feet height and is littered with stone balls and iron ore fragments.See pic on right.(Features edited to protect identity) Towards the N.NW side of the escarpment, the edge is very broken and ununiform. In many places along its almost 10 mile length the edge has eroded to produce gulley valleys out to the lower ground. As can be seen from the pics here, large boulders and slabs have either fallen from the face of the cliff, or occasionally from strata sections lower down.
The pic below is deceptive because it was taken from below the line of the marl hill in the nearground; but note near bottom-
left, the huge slab that once formed a part of ground level at the entrance. These were only evident at the cave area.
Another view from the right, with the cave tucked around the corner above the marl.
Half way up the slope with some of the boulders which have dropped from ground level at the entrance to the cave.
When these stone balls from the top of the escarpment are cracked open they conceal the fact that the stone usually encases a perfect thin iron ball, and stone centre. We were told that some contain crystal at the core, but we didn't have the tools to go hunting. (They were like concrete!)
This is one of the small valleys referred to in the story.The left hand cliff turns the corner to the bones cave.
This is a view from the top of the small valley looking down to the area of the cave. The cave is on the nose of the cliff right as it turns the corner. Match the pinnacle mound to the lead picture. There is a deep cave also on the left hand side escarpment that is as hard to get to. We made a find there also. Read of this in the main story.
Traversing the cliff face at night.
Interior shots of Chamber sections
The cave can be identified on the escarpment cliff as a dark dot, 1/4 down & 1/4 way across the picture from top right.
Getting to the Cave
The climb to the cave is very difficult. Below the cave entrance there is a long dangerous drop down to the broken boulders and slabs which have broken away. It is necessary therefore to climb to the right, up two levels of marl slope. This leads to the cliff. A lengthy traverse along the cliff has to be accomplished, while clinging for dear life to the crumbling ledges. At the cave entrance the ground opens out to a flattish area for several feet. It is obvious to see from the precipitous edge and the jigsaw of boulders and slabs laying below, how they once fitted together to give a very substancial flat ground entrance area leading to the cave. To the right and left of the cliff from the cave, there is plenty of boulder spoil from the upper part of the cliff, but it seemed as if it was only at the cave area where the fallen debris matched the cave level perfectly.This was maybe significant as you will read presently.
In the pictures below you will see the unassuming entrance from outside and one from inside looking out.We were able to see how the entrance had once been a fairly reasonable size, but now had been reduced to a crouched gap by fallen boulders.
Inside the Cave
Inside, the cave is extensive. The chambers follow a natural meandering fissure which reaches high up through the escarpment. Passage is severely restricted however because of more giant fallen slabs of stone. In places therefore it is possible to stand upright with plent of space and look around, but elsewhere it is necessary to crawl onhands and knees to get to other chambers formed from the fallen stone. An instant impression is that at one time, the cave must have been roomy and substantial. We already knew that significant changes had occurred to escarpments over the centuries from earthquakes, and this cave had most likely suffered that fate.
It was easy to stir up dust in the cave from the powder dust and spoil piled on the ground. The true floor level was obscured to a depth of several feet in places and powerful lighting would have been needed to explore it properly. There was the ever present danger also of hidden deadly scorpions and spiders!
We explored as best we could and saw how the cave could easily have had passageway access to the escarpment high above. We wanted to see if there was another way into the cave through the fissure but our lack of correct equipment and the fallen rock made the possibility inconclusive. From what we saw, it was also improbable.
We noted another strange feature of the cave. We would have taken many more pictures at the cave and inside the cave. However, in some of the pictures you will see there were strange lighting, or energy effects in the pics. On a next visit to the cave Judith and I came prepared with fresh batteries for both our cameras, and a fresh set in use.
Strangely, and to our amazement, as we each were trying to take pictures, the batteries plus reserve batteries to both our cameras, had discharged to zero!! When we returned to camp, the cameras worked fine again with more batteries from the same batch. See the pics below with the energy effect. In one pic. you can see part of a palm tree log we found inside the cave. (Some of the effects were undoubtedly from torchlight, but with some we were not so sure)
The Last Inhabitants
The cave thankfully is in a double protected area and several permissions are needed to travel within miles of it. However, those who live closest are also the most to be trusted. Since the cave was found, it has been little disturbed. Visits to it are conducted with the uttmost respect for its archaeology.The cave holds an important secret. Within its chambers, on the ground surface and surely still buried in its sediment, there are human and small horse bone remains. As you can see from the pics. these are strewn everywhere. At least one human skeleton has been found among the bones, but no extensive dig has
been conducted to determine what else lies beneath the dust.
Upon examination, it was found that one horse leg bone still had a clad horse shoe. This shoe was highly unusual however. It was made of two parts. There was a plate which fitted around the hoof and was cleated to the base plate of the shoe. It fitted the hoof almost like a horse shoe slipper, but was firmly fitted. The base plate was solid, and where the rear of the hoof ended, the plate curled up into a swan-neck shape. The metal looked like thin strong beaten iron. An instant speculation was that this type of shoe would give an animal double purchase over desert sand, and undoubtedly a lot of extra speed. Across the small valley in another almost inaccesable cave, we recovered another horseshoe, but this one was just a flat plate as shown in the pic.
The swan neck horse shoe
Another piece of Palm Log
Bones everywhere !
This is the shoe found in the deep cave on the opposite side of the small valley
The Double Conundrum
How had all of them met their deaths? Could it have been as a result of a violent earthquake? Were they put to death? Or could all of them have drowned ??? (This may not be such an outlandish possibility because of the third question.)
How did at least one human and horses get into the cave in the first place? It is situated half way up a 550 feet high cliff face that can only be accessed on hands and knees after doing some rock climbing.
The remains must predate the cave collapse because the horses could not have navigated the entrance; (assuming no other completely hidden entrance.) Horses can't rock-climb, so it can be assumed they gained entry when the level outside the cave was either the mean ground level, or when it formed the shoreline of an old sea! There does not appear to be evidence of the ground level having continued along the cliff, so possibly the cave originated as a sea cave and was utilised as a waystation when the water receeded sufficiently.The shore line would have provided good access. It is also possible in more recent times that the inhabitents could have been victims of foul play, but if so,why kill valuable horses?
Many answers could be accessed in time, through earthquake research and in particular by a proper archeological excavation of the cave. An expert local geological study would also help. More information may be gained from the nature of the horse shoe cladding and maybe readers here can help solve some aspects of the puzzle in the meantime. It is a hopeful wish that an archeological team could be put together sometime, and with permissions, could fully investigate the circumstances of this cave. The final speculation would be that the cave was used in an ancient time when sea levels were 200 feet or more, higher than now. The traveller/s sheltered there with their horses and lost their lives to either earthquake or to drowning by inundation. The cave points to evidence of a far away time, and it would be a tragedy if its potential was not properly explored. (Its height by the way, mirrors finds we made at similar heights over tens of miles of desert.
Examining the detail of the skull
Now it is Your Turn...
If you wish, you can play detective with this story also. We will assist in any way and credit any breakthrough information here. As before, we will also credit and feedback the comments from the forums. So, please get your thinking caps on and give your help. Contact us direct on the following link: firstname.lastname@example.org
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