Asfendou or Sfakion cave

Asfendou or Sfakion cave

Asfendou cave is located near the village of Sfakia.

The cave has actually one room that was previously larger. The intense precipitation and the fall of the roof give rock shelter morphology to the cave.

This small cave is very interesting since in 1960 engraved Paleolithic rock paintings were discovered on the floor near the entrance, on a stalagmite-plate.

There is a variety of painting subjects, which are difficult to date. Some researchers, from the subjects, dated some of them in the prehistoric times and particularly in 8000 BC or older, making them the oldest traces of habitation on the island.

Overall, the carvings were made at different times, thus they often overlap. There are figurative carvings, depicting scenes of deer or antelope, bow and arrow, javelin, and perhaps ship or branches. There are also abstract carvings, linear and tectonic, and others formed with small engraved dots.

These paintings show the presence of hunters in Sfakia mountains that were either older than the Neolithic era, or survived in Neolithic times, isolated, continuing a tradition of centuries.