Sunday, April 19, 2009

Italian Earthquake Reveals Prehistoric Caves

Last week's powerful earthquake in central Italy unearthed prehistoric dwellings there, according Italian daily La Stampa. Some of the vaulted caves measure nearly 20 feet in height, according to Italian geologist Gianluca Ferretti.

"We are exploring them," said Ferretti, who teaches geology at L'Aquila's university. The caves date back 15,000 years, according to geologists.

"Some of the caves were hollowed out by the first shepherds to inhabit the area, who would also use them as shelters for their animals," said Ferretti's colleague, Antonio Moretti.

But while they represent a fascinating archaeological find, the caves' emergence has worried geologists. "It shows the fragility of the sediment on which the area is built," said Ferretti.

The magnitude 6.3 quake last week destroyed or seriously damaged several thousand buildings and killed about 300 people.

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