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The Weight Above

Hiding In Underground Bunkers Not A Good Idea

By James Donahue

The stories floating around the web among conspiracy theorists concerning secret underground cities, bunkers and tunnels constructed to give wealthy individuals and government and military leaders places to flee in the event of apocalyptic events have always made me cringe.

Anytime I have been in a cave I have always been extremely conscious of the great weight of earth hanging over my head. I had the same sensation the day I drove across the bottom level of one of San Francisco’s double-decked bridges into Oakland. It wasn’t only a month or two later that the top of this very bridge collapsed on cars on the lower level when the area was struck by a 6.9 earthquake in October, 1989.

I think you get the picture.

The last place I would want to be when the Earth is shaking, when nuclear bombs are falling, when great storms and extensive flooding is in some underground bunker with tons of concrete, rock and earth looming over my head. Imagine being trapped there in a flood situation, with the place filling with water and all exits blocked.

An excellent case in point was recently discovered by archaeologists in a huge cave that was discovered in southern Greece in 1958. The cave was reportedly discovered by a man and his dog that were hunting foxes and the man followed his dog into the cave entrance. Consequently the cave is named Alepotrypa, a Greek name for "foxhole."

At first Greek officials perceived the cave, because of its massive size, to be a potential tourist attraction, much like the United States does with some of the great caves known to exist in the American Southwest.

The cave’s main chamber is about 200 feet high and about 330 feet wide. It stretches at least 3,300 feet into the earth and features a lake, which famed aquatic explorer Jacques Cousteau once scuba-dived.

But archaeological excavations that have been going on there since 1970 have uncovered evidence of at least 9000 years of human habitation. Tools, pottery and even copper and silver artifacts dating back to Neolithic times have been found.

There also were burial sites.

Greek archaeologist Giorgos Papathanassopoulos, who led a team of researchers, also has uncovered evidence that large numbers of people once lived in the cave. They believe a settlement existed there with hundreds of occupants, thus making Alepotrypa Cave one of the largest and most complex underground villages to have existed in Europe.

But Alepotrypa became a death trap about 5,000 years ago when the ceiling and entrance collapsed, burying the community and its people alive. An earthquake is suspected.

Researcher Michael Galaty, an archaeologist at Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi, called the site "the closest thing we have to a Neolithic Pompeii." Everything at the site was captured exactly as it was the moment the cave collapsed. Everything has since been preserved by a mineral coating.

While the research at Alepotrypa continues, researchers believe the site might help confirm a theory that complex societies existed in Europe earlier than historians once thought.