Σπιλια Χαρκαδιο

Σπήλαιο Χαρκαδιό - Spilia Harkadio - Harkadio Cave - Harkadhio Cave - Grotto of Harkadio - Charkadio Cave


Useful Information

Location: At the castle Messaria, near Megalo Chorio, Tilos.
(36.44067791209698, 27.365110544550227)
Open: Cave: closed with iron bar gate.
Museum at Megalo Chorio: All year Mon-Fri 8:30-14:30.
If closed ask at the municipal office on the other side of the street.
[2021]
Fee:  
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: George Theodorou, Nikolaos Symeonides, Elizabeth Stathopoulou (2007): Elephas tiliensis n. sp. from Tilos island (Dodecanese, Greece) Hellenic Journal of Geosciences. 42: 19–32. pdf
George Theodorou (1983): The dwarf elephants of the Charkadio cave on the island of Tilos (Dodekanese, Greece) Phd Thesis Athens University.
George Theodorou (1988): Environmental factors affecting the evolution of islands endemics: The Tilos example for Greece Modern Geology. 13: 183–188.
Athanassios Athanassiou, Georgios Theodorou, Evangelia Tsoukala, Dick Mol (2016): VIth International Conference on Mammoths and their Relatives, Part 2, Quaternary International 406:1-3, May 2016. DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2016.05.014 researchgate
Address: Municipality of Tilos, Megalo Chorio, Tilos 85002, Tel: +30-22460-44212, Tel: +30-22460-44320. E-mail: E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

NOV-1971 Pleiocene midget elephant bones discovered by Dr. Nick Symeonidis.
1971-1976 excavations by the Department of Historical Geology and Palaeontology of the University Athens and the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien.
1994 exhibition about the excavations of Charkadio Cave opened at the Town Hall of Tilos in Megalo Horio.
15-SEP-1997 the UNESCO conference Mediterranean 2000 inaugurated in the cave.
2016-2017 exhibition titled Elephas tiliensis. Dwarf and three-dimensional at the Museum of Geology and Paleontology of the National University of Athens.
2020 scheduled opening of new Elephant Museum at the cave.

Description

Megalo Chorio is the capital of the small island Tilos, one of the smallest Islands of the Dodecanese. The castle Messaria is on the southern side of the plains, and marks the location of the Harkadhio Cave. The Σπιλια Χαρκαδιο (Harkadhio Cave) is primarly of palaeontological interest. Many remains of Pleistocene animals were found here. Most interesting are the bones of dwarf elephants and Stone Age artifacts. The elephant finds are now on display in the small museum at Megalo Chorio, located in the Town Hall. The exhibition is planned to be transferred to a new building near Harkadhio Cave in 2020. This would also allow guided tours into the cave, which is currently gated with iron bars. It is possible to have a look inside but not to enter. Stone tools of the Neolithic period are displayed in the Paleontological Museum of Tilos.

The island was divided from the Greek mainland 10,000 years ago, with the rise of the sea level after the last Ice Age. Elephants living on the island became endemic and developed to a smaller form, at the end they were only 1.30m high. They are called the last elephants of Europe, as they are the youngest ever found elephant bones in Europe, and became extinct around 4000 BC. In the 1970s they were C14 dated 7090±680 BC and 4390±600 BC. Why the elephants disappeared or died out, no one can say for sure. One theory is a volcanic eruption on the volcanic neighbouring island of Nisyros.

They are descendants of the Great Forest Elephants (Elephas antiquus) which lived during the last cold age all over the Mediterranean. They had a shoulder height of 4.50m and they were related to Indian and African Elephants, but they were not related to Mammoths. The dwarf elephants of Tilos are called Palaeoloxodon tiliensis (Theodorou et al. 2007). The Tilos dwarf elephant is the first dwarf elephant whose DNA sequence has been studied. The results of this research are consistent with previous morphological reports. The closest living relative is the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis).