The Cave of Mount Zeus

The Cave of Mount Zeus is located at an altitude of 628 metres on the steep western slope of Mount Zeus and can be reached by a short hike from the spring “ton Arión”.

The Cave of Mount Zeus lies high up in the steep valley on the western flank of Mount Zeus.

The entrance was formerly closed by a door which is now missing.

The Cave of Mount Zeus consists of two chambers that are quite easy to reach and a deeper chamber that is less accessible. The first chamber about 35 by 10 metres in size with a height of two to five metres; the next chamber is much larger with 78 by 65 metres and a height of up to 22 metres. It is difficult to move there because the ground is covered with large rocks that have fallen from the roof.

The first chamber is quite large but relatively low.

The ceiling consists of impressive marble blocks.

Towards the east the cave expands quite a bit; but in order to explore these parts one would have to be properly equipped.

In the first chamber in many places, the ceiling is blackened by fires.

Moisture seeps through the cracks in the marble, which leads to the formation of fine stalactite “curtains”.

Here larger stalactites can be seen that have formed on one wall of the cave.

Deeper inwards one reaches a second chamber that is much larger with 78 x 65 metres and a height of up to 22 metres. This part is very difficult to access because the ground is covered with large, slippery rocks that have fallen from the roof. Here a photo from an excursion with biologists on the search for bats.

At the end of the 1980s the front chamber of the cave was excavated by archaeologists. The excavations provided valuable information about the use of the cave in the past: Many artefacts were found from the Neolithic Age, as well as from the Bronze Age and the Archaic to Roman period. Of particular interest are the finds from the Neolithic period, which include ceramics, animal bones and seeds, obsidian and bronze tools, as well as the (at that time) oldest gold find in the Aegean, a small gold plate, which most likely came from the gold treasure of Varna in Bulgaria. The earliest pottery shows similarities with pottery from the coast of Asia Minor, which suggests that Naxos was settled from there. Close connections also existed to the northern Aegean and to Attica, the latter especially during the archaic and classical epochs.

The excavations in the Cave of Mount Zeus showed that the island was densely populated and cultivated already in the Neolithic Age, and that metal processing, agriculture and livestock farming were practised. Furthermore an active connection with neighbouring regions of the Aegean can be proved by the similarities in the artifacts.

Here the entrance viewed from the inside with the impressive marble ceiling.

see also:

used literature: Κωνσταντίνος Ζάχος, Αρχαιολογικές έρευνες στο σπήλαιο του Ζα, Η Νάξος δια μέσου των Αιώνων, Πρακτικά του Α Πανελλήνιου Συνεδρίου, Επιμέλεια: Ιωάννης Κ. Προμπονάς, Στέφανος Ε. Ψαρράς, Αθήνα 1994