Cvinger near Dolenjske Toplice: Excavating the Cave

Recent excavations by the Slovenian ENTRANS team have focused on the hillfort of Cvinger near Dolenjske Toplice. As well as working on the rampart, entrance path and iron smelting area, we have also worked on the remarkable cave, located in the centre of the hillfort.

Although the profile of the cave was first published in 1909, it has since filled with rubble, mainly due to weathering, but also partly the result of human activity. The first archaeological investigations, in the 1980’s, removed around 8m3 of stone but revealed no archaeological material.

The same was true of our first campaign, in July 2016, when we prepared the first 3D model of the cave and removed another 10m3 of material. However, this did not discourage either our team or the researchers of the Novo mesto cavers club (JKNM), who dedicated their free time to research the cave further. In September 2016 we returned and moved another 2m deeper into the cave. When an experienced member of the JKNM then daringly entered an opening of less than 0.5 m2, he was able to proceed another 10m deeper into what seems to be a more complex cave system than expected. The first fragment of prehistoric pottery, found in the lower part of the rubble, suggests that the cave was indeed used by the Iron Age inhabitants of the hillfort.