Petralona Cave - Greece

The human skull that challenges the Out of Africa theory

This is the account of the discovery of a skull that has the potential to change what we know about human evolution, and a suppression and cover-up which followed.   

In 1959, in an area called Chalkidiki in Petralona, Northern Greece, a shepherd came across a small opening to a cave, which became visible when a thick covering of snow finally melted.  He gathered a group of villagers to help him clear the entrance so they could go inside and explore.  They found a cave rich in stalactites and stalagmites. But they also found something surprising – a human skull embedded in the wall (later research also uncovered a huge number of fossils including pre-human species, animal hair, fossilized wood, and stone and bone tools).   

Petralona SkullThe skull was given to the University of Thessaloniki in Greece by the President of the Petralona Community. The agreement was that once the research was done, a museum would be opened featuring the findings from the Petralona cave, and the skull would be returned to be displayed in the museum – something that never happened.

Dr Aris Poulianos, member of the UNESCO's IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences), later founder of the Anthropological Association of Greece , and an expert anthropologist who was working at the University of Moscow at the time, was invited by the Prime Minister of Greece to return to Greece to take a position of a University Chair in Athens.  This was due to the publication of his book, ‘The Origins of the Greeks’, which provides excellent research showing that Greek people didn’t originate from the Slavic nations but were indigenous to Greece.  Upon his return to Greece, Dr Poulianos was made aware of the discovery of the skull at Petralona, and immediately started studying the Petralona cave and skull.

The ‘Petralona man’, or Archanthropus of Petralona, as it has since been called, was found to be 700,000 years old, making it the oldest human europeoid (presenting European traits) of that age ever discovered in Europe. Dr Poulianos’ research showed that the Petralona man evolved separately in Europe and was not an ancestor of a species that came out of Africa. 

In 1964, independent German researchers, Breitinger and Sickenberg, tried to dismiss Dr Poulianos’ findings, arguing that the skull was only 50,000 years old and was indeed an ancestor that came from Africa.  However, research published in the US in 1971 in the prestigious Archaeology magazine, backed up the findings that the skull was indeed 700,000 years old.  This was based on an analysis of the cave’s stratigraphy and the sediment in which the skull was embedded.  Further research in the cave discovered isolated teeth and two pre-human skeletons dating back 800,000 years, as well as other fossils of various species.

Today, most academics who have analyzed the Petralona remains say that the cranium of the Archanthropus of Petralona belongs to an archaic hominid distinguished from Homo erectus, and from both the classic Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, but showing characterists of all those species and presenting strong European traits.  A skull dating back 700,000 which is either Homo sapien or part Homo sapien is in direct conflict with the Out of Africa theory of human evolution.  

Petralona Man

Further excavations continued in the cave of Petralona with the participation of international researchers (46 specialists from 12 separate countries), which provided further proof of Dr Poulianos’ claims, including remarkable findings like fossilized pieces of wood, an oak leaf, animal hair and coprolites, which enabled accurate dating, as well as the almost continuous presence of stone and bone tools of the Archanthropus evolutionary stage, from the lower (750,000 years) to the upper (550,000 years) layers of sediment within the cave.

The research, after an interruption due to the dictatorship in Greece, continued up to 1983. It was then ordered by the government that all excavations at the site were forbidden to anyone, including the original archaeological team, and for 15 years nobody had access to the site or to the findings – no reason was provided by the government.  Was this denial of access to prevent the extraction of whatever new scientific conclusions remained hidden within the incredible fossils embedded within the layers of the caves’ walls? 

After the Anthropological Society of Greece took the case to the courts, 15 years later they were again allowed access to the cave.  Since then the Ministry of Culture is trying in any way to overcome the Courts decision and further trials proceed.

Aris PoulianosDr Poulianos’ findings contradicted conventional views regarding human evolution and his research was suppressed.  Dr Poulianos and his wife were physically attacked and injured in their home in 2012 and the culprits were never been found. He and his team have been denied further access to the cave to complete their research and study, and the whereabouts of the skull is now unknown.  

Today a sign sits outside the cave of Petralona stating that the skull found in the cave was 300,000 years old, and on Wikipedia today you will see references dismissing the evidence and trying to date the Petralona skull within acceptable parameters – between 160,000 and 240,000 years old.  

Recently, Professor C.G. Nicholas Mascie-Taylor of the University of Cambridge sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture in Greece saying that the correct date of the skull is 700,000 years old and not 300,000. He has also challenged the government’s suppression of information regarding this incredible discovery. 

The Greek Ministry of Education, Religions, Culture and Sports,

Bouboulinas 20-22,

Athens 106 82,


5 September 2012

Dear Sir,

I am writing on behalf of the European Anthropological Association, which is the umbrella professional and academic association linking all of the national European biological anthropology and human biology societies, to express our concerns about the conservation of the Petralona Cave and Skull, the misinformation of the dating of the skull, as well as the treatment of personnel associated with the conservation of the Cave.

The bases of our concerns are that the skull has been damaged through many scratches and the crown of a tooth (1st molar) cut off. As requested by Anthropological Association of Greece what is required is a detailed description of the present status of the skull, so that no one in future can arbitrarily damage it further. There is also the problem of dating which has been scientifically dated at about 700,000 years ago not 300,000 as is given at the information desk. There is a very detailed record of the excavations and findings which need to receive further public presentation but which have never been catalogued so as to prevent specimens going missing.

It is very unfortunate that the Greek Archaeological Department stopped Dr Aris Poulianos from further work in the Cave without any explanation. It is also very worrying that Dr Poulianos and his wife were physically attacked and injured in their home earlier this year and the culprits have not been found. He was also verbally abused when attempting to give an invited presentation to teachers and school children.

Senior anthropologists and geologists have also been denied access to the Cave and the specimens for further study on a number of occasions without substantive reasons. Earlier this year there has also been misinformation given to the Greek Parliament concerning financial aspects of the Cave.

I look forward to receiving answers to these questions.

Yours faithfully

Professor C G N Mascie-Taylor MA, PhD, ScD (all Cambridge), FSB, FNAS (Hungary)

Professor of Human Population Biology and Health and President of the European Anthropological Association


The most important conclusion of Dr Poulianos' research regards the co-existence of all main anthropological types (African – Kobi, Asian – Beijing and European – Petralona) at the same almost period (700,000, 500,000 and 750,000 respectively). That means: the appearance of the today human main populations (races or even better phyllae - from the Greek language and that’s why polyphyletic etc) is tending to almost 1,000,000 m.y.a. and not to only 10,000 or 30,000 years as currently considered world wide.

However, independently if there is a scientific dispute on the above, it is only sad to become aware that research is not allowed to those who are not coordinated to the “standard” knowledge, risking even their lives in front of gun shooters. 

Is this a cover up of an incredible discovery that the powers-that-be do not want us to have access to?  You be the judge.

By John Black

Related Links

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The 40th Anniversary since the discovery of the Petralona Archanthropus' skull

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Craig, everyone is entitled to have their own opinion. What i'm interested to know is how you came to conclude and accept as fact, this strong opinion you have that "we did not descend from Africans". Do you base it on the variation of the different races of modern humans as we have today?
It has been established that modern humans each belong to different races of the species know as Homo Sapiens. Most of these races have developed separately outside of Africa, the genetic mutations that establish these characteristic variations between each race, such as skin, hair and eye colour, nasal definition and shape, height and body structure, all appear as 'markers' on each of our strands of DNA, by looking at the 'markers' displayed in any of the supposedly later developed races, it is possible to see that prior to the appearance of the latest mutational 'marker,' there are also present in the DNA, previous 'markers' that are the same as in other races that have been known to be of an older establishment. These different 'markers' are known collectively as types of Haplogroups. We can easily trace through our DNA what type of Haplogroup we descend from. In this way it is possible to see each type of Haplogroup having originally developed from a parent Haplogroup, much like tracing a persons bloodline, but having all the correct information permanently recorded in our DNA. By tracing the Haplogroup lineages back through the DNA and finding the relevant races of people who dont have any newer 'markers' we can trace the Haplogroup lineage all the way back to its source.....which, in all cases originates from one main source found within the Negroid races still present and living in Africa today. So clearly we did descend originally from 'Africans', and there can be no disputing the clear evidence that this is so.
But, i'd just like to add something here, that in some ways supports your view without removing the fact of the Haplogroup genetic markers. Sometime after the first group of the source Haplogroup known as type L migrated out of Africa, and before they then migrated further onward, they met and interbred with another species of Hominid known as Neanderthal, all people who descend from this first group that left Africa carry some small amount of Neanderthal genes within their DNA, the fact that everyone who exists outside of Africa today has some Neanderthal genes within them and all the pure stock of humans who remained in Africa up until today do not carry any Neanderthal genes within their DNA, clearly shows that we are not the same species of Homo Sapiens as those we left behind in Africa. We are a hybrid mix of two closely related species of the genus Homo, although only a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA exists within us, the added benefits their genes gave to us were clearly purposely selected for. From Neanderthal we gained the FOXP2 gene, which is related to language, at around the time of this interbreeding, changes happened to the genetic development of our hearing. This is said to be in response to having developed a more rich, tonal language and our hearing had to adjust to be able to hear these higher and lower tonal sounds. There are other genetic benefits we gained from Neanderthals and also more came in from interbreeding with the Denisovan species. I'm in the process of developing a book on this subject and i'll discuss there in more detail the many more beneficial genetics we derived from these two species, but to give credence to your statement 'we did not descend from Africans', well in fact we did, but we are not the same species as them anymore, except for recent genetic drifting of our genes back into our parent African humans, by all other accounts we are in fact an improved hybrid species, as distinct from those in Africa that are 'pure' Homo Sapiens, we out-of-Africans are in fact a newer species (albeit with only a slight difference in genetics, these new genetics packed a lot of power in driving our development), we are now the Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
All of this and much more will be discussed in my forthcoming book on the subject.

Peter,you start with the preconseption of the OOA theory, and then find a way to explain every new occurance, find or result based on this preconception. Sadly, geographical tracks are not registered in our hard copies, so really, you cannot tell this by the genes. I would say though, that it is easier to find logic in humans having their roots from a continent, where the genetic diversity still is greater, rather than the opposite. The extinction theory is really a thin straw to hold on to. Also, the fossil record only tell you where the conditions were ideal for fossilisation. But wake up! compare those foot prints found recently in Norfolk with the slightly older ones found in Africa and understand that you have all been looking at the ancestors of the Chimps and Gorillas, evolving from originally bipedal apes that came in from Asia and then Homo Sapiens came into Africa only some 300 000 years ago, only a few different groups untill historical times began. But I may be wrong, but you may also be wrong, but you should not be advocating the openmindednes, when you are so deep into some doctrine yourself.

Peter, I found your ideas about this so called new species and superior hybrid species as well as the idea of an older, inferior, non-hybrid species to be provocative and, well, probably just plain wrong--but I did some checking first. It seems that the only Africans that do not have Neanderthal genes are Sub-Saharan: "“The only modern populations without Neanderthal admixture are the sub-Saharan groups,” Discovery News quoted Carles Lalueza-Fox from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at Barcelona, Spain, as saying. ";_ylt=A0SO80TlM81T3WsAHXNXNyoA;_... And I really doubt there is any credible peer reviewed evidence that they are inferior to those of us who may have Neanderthal and/or Denisovan DNA. Plus, as we keep mixing, there will probably be people of sub-Saharan descent with Neanderthal DNA very soon--if there are not already. It isn't like everyone of this descent has agreed to have their DNA sequenced and made public. (Not that I agree that Neanderthal DNA provides any advantages . . . .)

Meanwhile, if Neanderthal DNA does in fact provide advantages, it is interesting to note that "it occurs in 9% of Western Europeans, the "center" of ancient Neanderthal populations, but is PRESENT IN 25% OF NATIVE AMERICANS, by far the highest prevalence worldwide." The comments on the thread below are very interesting. So, the deal here, is you can't really claim a group of people are a new improved hybrid species--when only 9% of the people so claimed contain the genes you think make it so . . . .

Further, " . . . In the Sardinian and French genomes from Europe we find genomic regions of Neanderthal origin and few or no regions of Denisovan origin. In contrast, in the Han Chinese, the Dai in southern China, and the Karitiana and Mixe in the Americas, we find, in addition to regions of Neanderthal origin, regions that are consistent with being of Denisovan origin . . . " If there were, in fact, a new improved hybrid species, which I do not believe to be the case, it does not include all people who left Africa. It apparently includes only 9% or Europeans, while including much larger percentages of Chinese and Native Americans . . . .

Re Harveswrot; You claim that only 9% of people that are not of SSA descent have neanderthal DNA.Check again it is all people that are not SSA that have 1-4%.And this small amount seems to have improved the recipients.


If we came out of Africa, we need to have Genesis chapter 1 to 3 rewritten.


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