A few meters above the beach of Diros, lays the prehistoric cave of Alepotripa. It is a very significant cave as it dates back to the Neolithic age.
A hunter discovered the cave by accident in 1958. It was the same year that the Petrocheilos couple and the Speleological Society conducted the first exploration. The first findings indicated the cave’s archaeological significance, but the human interventions in the ‘60s has resulted in the destruction and loss of important anthropogenic elements. Rock paintings of primitive humans were discovered in 1967, while the excavations conducted since 1970 by G. Papathanasopoulos brought to light a treasure of finds: stone and bone prehistoric tools, stone, bone and copper guns, bone, stone and silver jewels, ceramic and clay pottery, and marble statuettes and weaving kits. Mass graves, human and prey skeletons, store rooms and various stone constructions were also found in the cave.
According to the conclusions of the investigations, Alepotripa was used during the early and late Neolithic age (5300-3200 B.C.), and was continuously inhabited for 2500-3000 years. Newer measurements situate the first findings in 6000 B.C. According to scientists, a Neolithic center based on maritime commerce flourished in the cave. Possibly a group of seamen of the Neolithic age moored in the gulf of Diros due to bad weather. Here they found fresh water at the back of the cave. The group settled, organizing a commercial maritime station in the gulf. The life of the community was disrupted by a strong earthquake that blocked the cave’s mouth. The hemmed in seamen died of hunger, while the people that inhabited the surrounding area abandoned the settlements because of the lack of fresh water.
The natural entrance of the cave lies some meters away from the sea. The total length of the corridors reaches 600m; 100m wide and 30m high. The interior of the cave contains corridors that lead to ten different spacious chambers. The chambers succeed one another and they are covered by stalactites, stalagmites and a layer of thick stalagmatic material. The ground goes downwards and it is rough and multilevel with corridors that lead to one or another plateau. The larger chamber is the one called the “Chamber of the Lakes”. It is situated to the east, on a height of 40m. It is 100m long and 60m wide. At its east edge, there is a lake, 25m wide and 9m deep, that contains renewable fresh water. The Neolithic finds attest that the cave’s chambers were used as houses.
The cave has a stable temperature of 18οC, is located around 50m from Diros beach and has a total extension of 6.500 m². The actual artificial entrance is located at an elevation of 16m.
The cave was used as a shelter, house, laboratory, and storeroom, as well as cemetery and place of worship for the dead. It has been identified as one of the most significant Neolithic caves of Europe and can be visited. The Neolithic Museum in the natural area of the cave provides information on the history of Alepotripa and the finds discovered in it.