Kapova Cave, known as Shul’gan’tash. A limestone karst cave in the southern Urnal mountains. It’s known for 16,000 year cave drawings.

Kapova cave (Капова пещера), Shul’gan-Tash ( капающая вода), dripping water, or Шүлгәнташ in Bashkir. It is a limestone karst cave in the Burzyansky District of Bashkortostan. About 200 km (120 mi) south-east of the city of Ufa, above Kazakhstan. It is in the southern Ural mountains.

In Bashkir tradition. Shulgan was mostly negatively attributed. To the owner of the underworld, or underwater king. Given the history and geology, both the lake and cave also bear part of his name. Bearing a significant part of Russian and the areas folklore and tradition.

Kapova cave entrance:
Today, this area of wild dense forest, and high white rocks has changed. It is the habitat of deer, bear, and bashkort bee. Around 10-20 thousand years ago the climate and the landscape was different. Summer was short, while winter months were very long and cold. Much of the landscape was Tundra. In the clefts and caves among the rocks humans huddled together to keep warm.
The entrance to the cave is situated on the southern slope of the Sarykuskan mountain. It forms a huge arch of 30 m (98 ft) height. To the left of the entrance to the cave is a lake from which the river Shul’gan originates. Inside the cave flows the underground Shul’gan river. That created the cave. This three-storey cave system is huge. Its about 3 km (1.9 mi) long, with a vertical amplitude of 165 m (541 ft) including siphon underwater cavities, large halls, galleries, underground lakes and the river.

The portal:
The mouth of the ‘Shulgantash cave’ is now called the portal. Deep in the portal the Shulgan stream comes up through the earth forming a pool named Blue lake. Its believed the lake is bottomless. Below 33 Meters (108ft) in depth it joins a gigantic underground water cavity.
A passageway leads from the portal to the succession of the ground level halls, and galleries. Some are as high and wide as 20-30 meters. The halls and galleries are connected by tunnels of various lengths and shapes. Some of the walls too are covered with calcite sinter. Which is quite deep and intricately shaped.
According to scientist P.I. Rychkov, Bashkirs (Bashkorts) usually hid here their famiIies, and horses during wars, and their uprisings. The cattle naturally stayed in the lower floor of the cave, while women, children and old men went upstairs. Food was always stored here.

Cave drawings:
These Russian cave drawings, discovered in the late 1950s were the first of there age, beyond France and Spain. And, unrivaled versus anywhere else on earth. For many centuries all the thousands of year old cave drawings here had been covered with a semi-transparent calcite crust. In 1976, a known archaeologist O.N. Bader was asked to begin cleaning some of the pictures off. Traces of primitive, human life, spread, red paint, as well as, ornament of geometrical figures. Neolithic signs (and, older) of human life are in the large cave system. Two-coloured pictures of long-haired horses, beside them a trapezium like geometrical figure, and a little further, a group of geometrical signs. There is a picture of an anthropoid creature, the only one in Shulgantash cave. Ancient people, various animals: horses, rhinos, bulls, bisons, and mammoths. Geometrical signs and figures. In all, there are many drawings in ‘Kapova, Shul’gan-Tash, dripping water or Шүлгәнташ cave’. Still being analyzed daily. Size varies from 44 to 112 centimeters. Uranium-thorium dating showed that the oldest drawings in the Kapova cave were made 36,400 years ago. That’s amazing.

Underground lake in the cave:
In one of the halls you can see the river Shulgan in its underground flow. A scuba diver traveled almost 330 meters (1082 feet or 1/3km) into a siphon inside the cave having finding no end to it. Due to the geology of the gave. Silvery fringe of calcite icicles hang from some of the ceilings. And, among the sublime decorations of the cave are “milky rivers” composed of there crystals. Fragile and crisp. They haven`t become solid like pearls yet. Adding discrepant beauty to the somewhat dark underworld place.
On some of the walls are crusts of marble onyx, in some places half a metre deep.

Did you know? Marble onyx has only been found in caves.

Discovery, excavation:
It had long been said, locals were afraid to visit or document about the cave. The first written information was in 1760. Initial Russian academy of sciences member, P.I. Rychkov gave a detailed description of the cave ground level in his article: “Description of a cave located in the Orenburg province near the Belaya River, which of all the caves in Bashkiria are the most glorious and revered”. From then on, other scientists, foresters and locals begain documenting and taking explorations into the cave. Even offering tours for explorers and those so inclined.
Beginning around the 1960s, employees of Bashkir state university begin compiling a real map of the cave. A number of years later, when some of the scientists died, and they decided to close the cave in 1979.
When re-opened in the 1980s, dating technology had also increased. Scientists were able to analyze the drawings greater. And, in addition, find a clay fat lamp; stone, mostly flint tools; pieces of ocher, jewelry in the form of beads; and, pendants made of stone and small shells of fossil mollusks. Bones of animals of the pleistocene: mammoth, cave bear, fox, hare, marmot were also found. Even pikas, and jerboa. Many large archaeologists agree Shulgan-Tash cave was a sanctuary and one of the most significant pieces of history in Russia. Check it out today.