Vela Spila (Big Cave) (Korcula Island)

Vela Spila (Big Cave) (Korcula Island)


Description of the Vela Spila or Big Cave

Vela Spila or Big Cave on a Croatian Korcula Island is a large cave situated above a town of Vela Luka. This cavern is measured at 17 meters, 40 meters in length and about 40 meters wide. Openings in the roof the cave have collapsed due to natural erosion. It is particularly famous for archaeological digs here that discovered human remains (known locally as Baba i Dida or Grandma and Grandpa in Croatian), early examples of ceramic art, weapons and numerous tools that date back to Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. The oldest artifacts here date back 20,000 years ago. These items are kept in a museum in Vela Luka just below the Vela Spila Cave.


There is an unbroken sequence of sediments from the late Mesolithic to the Neolithic. Radiocarbon dated finds suggest seasonal human presence for hunting and the collection of marine resources from 20,000 years BC. Three child burials were discovered between 1986 and 1998 in the younger Mesolithic layers. Further findings are dated between 13,500 and 12,600 BC.

Eneolithic layers account for non-permanent human occupation of the cave, attributed to the Hvar Culture. This period is immediately being followed by a compact layer of the Bronze Age.

The archeological finds are on display at the Centre for Culture in Vela Luka. In 2009 National Geographic (Hrvatska) featured an article about Vela Spila.

In 1986, remains of two adults where found. Scientific research dated their bodies back to late Neolithic times. The local towns people of Vela Luka called them Baba i Dida, meaning Grandma & Grandpa.

Further excavations between 2001 and 2006, produced 36 ceramic artifacts dated to the late Upper Palaeolithic period, about 17,500 to 15,000 years ago. These finds are the only examples of ceramic figurative art in southeastern Europe during the Upper Palaeolithic.