Teshik-Tash Cave

The Baysuntau mountain range in Uzbekistan hides a world-famous Teshik-Tash cave in its slopes. Teshik-Tosh is translated from Uzbek language as “a Rock with holes”. It is located in one of the most impressive gorges of Shiroboddarya, not far from the village of Verkhniy Machai at an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level. Teshik-Tash grotto is situated in a narrow canyon which is hard to find without a guide. Teshik-Tash consists not of one, but several caves and the most popular among the visitors, is the grotto in which the famous burial site was discovered.

In 1938, archaeologist Michael E. Masson found the burial place in the cave and a Soviet archaeologist Aleksey Pavlovich Okladnikov discovered a burial from the Mousterian culture of a Neanderthal girl. Previously it was assumed that this skeleton belongs to a boy. A skull and some bones found belong to a Neanderthal child, which according to the latest research belong to a girl that was from 8 to 10 years old, surrounded by several skeletons of different animals. 

Among the animals there were birds as well as horns of a mountain goat, that were dug into the ground in the form of a circle which tells about the similarity of the ritual ceremony with other Neanderthal burial sites. In the Termez anthropological museum, you can find a sculptural work created according to the child’s appearance recreated by anthropologists. 

The vertical walls of the cave rise above the bottom of the gorge, reaching in places 50 meters in height. There are bushes of juniper protecting the cave entrance almost like a solid wall. The cave itself is an oval-shaped cavern with the measures of about 20 meters width and a little less than 7 meters in height, extending 21 meters into the rock. Inside it is dark and cold even though the grotto is small.

Although archaeological finds brought fame to the cave, locals come to Teshik-Tash, not for the burials. They come for a white stone in the cave, which is also the origin of the name of the cave. According to a legend, if you lead a child through this stone, he/she will be cured of any illness.

(Photo from Tashkent History Museum)

teshik-tash cave archeological discovery Neanderthal child

Sights Near Teshik Tash

Page updated 29.7.2021

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