Perama Cave

A three-storey palace, with incomparable beauties and wonderful ornaments, which is among the most beautiful in the Balkans, was created by nature in the bowels of Goritsa hill, which crowns the picturesque village of Perama. The ornaments chosen by nature for this were one of the most beautiful and richest. It lists 19 species of stalactites and stalagmites, while in other caves there are 6-10 species at most.

The Perama Cave of Ioannina, located just five kilometers from the city center of Ioannina in the homonymous suburb Perama, on the Goritsa hill. His legs bathes the Pamvotis Ioannina lake, made famous by the legend of Kyra Frosini and Ali Pasha.
Geographical Data
The plain area of ​​the basin develops around Lake Pamvotida and is surrounded by successive mountains and plateaus. Its highest points are located northwest, with Mount Mitsikeli (altitude 1811 m.) Dominating, while the lower ones develop east and south.

In the center, located between the southern slopes of Mitsikeli, the hills of the city and the hill of Kastritsa, the lake of Ioannina is formed. Around Mitsikeli, are Driskos (altitude 1278 m.) With its eastern ends ending in the valley of Arachthos, Aetorrachi (altitude 1078 m.) Which develops between Arachthos and the plateaus of Avgos, the Prophet Elias of Manoliassa (altitude 1076 m.), Megali Tsouka (altitude 1173 m.) above Kosmira, Marmara (altitude 879 m.), Tsouka (altitude 781 m.) and Pentalonia (altitude 840 m.).

The lake used to communicate, through a natural groove, with Lake Lapsista, in the northwestern part of the basin, which was drained in the 1950s, to create the plain of Lapsista. Many limestone hills form a special landscape, associated with historical sites, such as Kastritsa, Bizani, Perama Cave and Kastri Gardiki.

Geologically, the area belongs to the Ionian zone with limestone dominating. Occasionally there are minimal flushing zones. The main water element of the area is Lake Pamvotida, to which flow several streams of the basin. The climate of the region is that of the mild Mediterranean type, with a lot of rain, frequent fog and dry summer. In the mountainous parts of the region the climate becomes harsher with several snowfalls in winter.

Old residents of Ioannina, it is said that the entrance of the Cave was known before 1900 and that the bey Holiasis Efentis closed it around 1907 for security reasons. Since then, however, nothing reminded him of his existence. It became known during the Second World War (1940) by villagers who hid in the pits of Goritsa hill, to protect themselves from airstrikes.
How it was discovered
However the internal of the cave remained undiscovered because someone had to crawl at about 100 metres so as to reach chambers with high ceiling. After the war in 1951 the well-known geologist and spelaelogist, Ioannis Petrocheilos found out about its existence accidentally as he was passing by.

He got into it and admired for many hours the exceptional creation of the greek nature, the first in size and beauty that he came across in our country. The explorations continued from 1953 to 1956 when new parts of the cave were discovered. Grand corridors, extensive chambers as well as impressive and rich ornaments that implied that it was a luxurious palace that only gods could live there. That’s why the Cave of Perama was dedicated to Pluto and Persephone.

The cave is part of an underground river bed, which was opened during the Proto-Tertiary period, about 1,500,000 years old (Ioannis Petrochilos). Its tourist route has a length of 1,100 meters and the area it covers is 14,800 m2, while its altitude difference from the entrance to the exit is about 25 meters. The air temperature is 180 Celsius, while the temperature of the waters of the small lakes that form inside the Cave is 140 Celsius. Their hardness is 180 French with P.H 5.5 and the humidity of the Cave reaches 100%.

Cave therapy
In recent years there has been growing interest in the problem of utilizing the spaces inside the caves to maintain the health of the human body. Man, many years ago, had known that some underground spaces have physico-chemical properties, which have a therapeutic effect on a number of diseases of the human body.

Interpretation of Beneficial Properties
We now know that the main factors are the following:

The heat of the air and the currents it creates.
Changes and relative humidity.
The absence of ozone in the caves.
The low or even zero content of microorganisms.
Radioactive particles (radium products and gamma rays).
The absence of dust, while there are small droplets of moisture.
The acidic environment and the presence of calcium and magnesium and a number of other factors, natural, chemical of the caves have a positive effect on Climate Therapy.
Modern scientific research on the effect of the speleological environment on humans, clearly shows that caves can easily be turned into underground convents, where diseases can be treated and with the increased ability of the body to rejuvenate, all the above factors affect the health. the physical condition of the individual. And of course these factors are even more important, since they are used as a whole. These are not artificial, but natural factors. In the cave there is an atmosphere with low dynamics, compared to the outside. In fact, static ventilation does not create changes such as the outside atmosphere and any negative effects on the body.
In the environment of the cave there is a higher content of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) than in the outside atmosphere. This CO2 content stimulates the respiratory centers and pushes for heavier breaths and this helps the patient to inhale larger amounts of therapeutic elements present in the cave. An important therapeutic factor is the molecules-particles charged with negative electricity (they are born under the influence of Lenard's Valoelectric). These particles circulate in the environment of the cave and in contact with the mucus of the human body, collide with the positive electricity of the nuclei in the membranes. The high concentration of calcium ions (ions) (Calsium) positively affect the stability of the body's cells. In both cases there is a significant treatment for allergic diseases such as Asthma.

The high content of Mg (magnesium) is also what brings beneficial results. The stability of the electric pole is one of the phenomena that has been insufficiently researched so far and which is of great importance, because the stony volume acts like a Faraday cage, not allowing electromagnetic instabilities of the external atmosphere. The importance of the radioactivity that was discovered, albeit in small doses, in most caves is relatively little known.

Also important is the weak Gama, typical in many areas of the caves. The wet environment in the caves has an acidic reaction, which from a microbiological point of view means that the caves are completely unsuitable for the multiplication - growth of bacteria.

All of the above factors seem exhausting. Studies (clinical) have shown that these factors affect the rejuvenation of the human body. At the Tresin Research Center in Olomouc, Moravia, where experts from the University Clinic and the University Medical Center work together, studies have shown that these agents have a therapeutic effect, helping to protect the body.

Cave therapy can be used in the following cases:

In the treatment of chronic bronchial diseases of the respiratory system - Asthma.
Rejuvenation of human organisms exposed to emissions of pollution, exhaust gases and other harmful factors from dense industrial area and cloud created in large cities.
In the stabilization of the physical condition of organisms with chronic diseases, reduction of problems by 60-70%.
In the treatment of dermatological diseases resulting from infections, allergic form.

The method of measuring the Cave Therapeutic agents was developed by the International Commission of UNESCO (IP8) and does not differ from the methods used in climatology and in the research of air purity, radiometry and similar research. In the Czech Republic there is 30 years of experience, while speleotherapy is also used in the following countries: Hungary, Russia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Romania. Cave therapy is applied to children aged 5 to 15 years. The duration of treatment is 21 days for 4 hours per day. This treatment is done in mines and salt mines.

After bio-speleological research carried out by the Swedish professor Mr. K. Lindberg, it was found that the insects of the following generations live in the Cave:

Arpacticide (Maraenobiotus Brucei Carpatvicus Chapuis) Aselides
Isopodes Terrestres
Diplopodes Collemboles
Arachnides Acariens
As well as nymphs from various insects.
In the Cave of Perama, a new species of dolichopod was found for the first time in Greece by Ioannis Petrochilos and was studied by the French Biospiologist Chappuis who named it "Dolichopod Petrochilozi" in honor of the one who discovered it.

The caves are empty spaces in the rocks, they have an entrance that allows communication with the surface and dimensions such that it is possible for humans to enter. Each cave can be completely or partially filled with sediments, ie with materials that are transported there mainly by the erosion of rocks, water or ice. When caves are presented with complex development - such as a combination of vertical wells and horizontal chambers - they are cave systems.

Cave formation
The interpretation of the way of creation and evolution of caves and cave systems is the caveogenesis, which, however, includes the phases where the movement of water takes place in very narrow pipes that can not be considered caves due to size due to the above definition, as well as phases where the caves begin to collapse and be destroyed.

Summary Presentation of the Creation of the Caves
The shape and size of the caves vary greatly due to a large number of factors related to the structure and composition of the rock, the geometry of the cracks, the terrain in which it is located, the hydrological conditions and many other elements of lesser importance. Most of the caves that have been discovered are found in rocks such as limestone, marble, dolomite and generally in the so-called carbonate rocks. The reason for this is the composition of these rocks, which allows the dissolution of rainwater, when it binds carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and soil, ie karst erosion.

The result of this reaction is the formation of a weak carbonic acid capable of dissolving carbonate rocks. Distilled water at normal temperature dissolves 16mg / lt CaCO³, while when enriched in CO² during the reaction: CO² + HDO ↔ HDCO³, its solubility increases. Factors that affect karst erosion are the appropriate tectonic structure of the area, the slope of the soil surface, the climatic conditions and the chemical composition of the limestones. Thus with the presence of carbonic acid in the water the limestone (calcium carbonate) is converted to acidic calcium bicarbonate during the reaction: HCOCO + CaCO³ ↔Ca (HCO³) ²

The reaction shifts, in case of excess CO² to the products or when there is a shortage, to the reactants, in which case we have dissolution or precipitation of CaCO³ depending on the case. It is very important that in a small volume all these rocks are practically impermeable to water, but in their total volume, due to the many cracks they present (these cracks can be branches, cracks or cracks, as described in geology) , finally allow the passage of water. In this way the water widens the initially small cracks until it creates large spaces and labyrinthine systems of underground corridors, ie caves.

This process is continuous until geological rearrangements create new conditions. In the new conditions, the cave system of an area can acquire a new structure or move to a state where its further expansion almost stops and its space begins to fill with deposits, mainly calcite, which compose its decorative decoration. The term decoration refers to the so-called cave themes, of which the most common are stalactites, stalagmites, columns, etc.

The formation of these deposits is due to the reversal of the rock dissolution process due to the fact that the physical and chemical conditions have changed. As a consequence of this change, when water reaches the cave site through the cracks, it deposits the amount of calcium carbonate (which comes from the dissolution of the limestone rock) that it carries under dissolution.

Each drop carries a very small amount of dissolved calcium carbonate and slowly "builds" a cavern. If deposition occurs on the roof it forms stalactites or curtains on sloping surfaces. When the drop reaches the floor, it creates stalagmites, while when it lands on the walls and small lakes, it can form a very large variety of cave themes. This process is very slow and can take thousands of years.

The cave specimens are mainly composed of calcite (CaCO³). Calcite results from the dissolution of limestone, above the caves, due to acidic water dripping from the soil zone. When it reaches the inside of the cave, this water deposits the calcite that it "holds", forming a stalactite or another cavern. It is known that salt is made which crystallizes from the evaporation of water leaving the brine.

Crystallization of Calcite
Since the air in the cave is full of water vapor, the water that enters the cave can not evaporate. What causes dissolved calcite (CaCO³) to crystallize is a completely different process, the loss-escape of carbon dioxide (CO²) gas from water droplets.

The Importance of CO2
In the soil zone, where abundant plant debris decomposes rapidly, the CO² content of soil air can exceed 300 times the proportion of one hundred percent of the outside atmosphere. This CO² combines with the ground water to produce carbonic acid, which flows to dissolve the limestone and through its discontinuities enters the cave. When water comes in contact with cave air, which generally has a partial pressure of CO² much lower than that of ground air, CO² escapes from the water. When CO² escapes, a chemical change occurs, which is expressed by the following reaction: Ca + 2HCO³ → CO² ↑ + CaCO³ + H²O. This process is the opposite of that of limestone dissolution.

The fact that the loss of CO² and, more rarely, the evaporation of water, is the main way in which calcareous cave deposits are formed, is proved by their chemical composition. Stalactites are almost pure calcite, although the water from which they are formed may contain large amounts of other components in solution.

Due to its loss there is only a deposit of calcium carbonate, while the other components are not deposited as would happen in the case of evaporation. the cracks. This happens throughout its flow from the roof of the cave down. But it moves so fast that when it enters the cave it already has calcium carbonate to deposit. It is known from the above that while the deposition can take place outside the caves, the water trapped inside them opens cavities.

Fossils are the subject of the science of Paleontology, which studies organisms that lived in the geological periods of the past. The conclusions drawn by Paleontology concern either the evolution of the various organisms or chronological data. Paleontology in caves can concern two cases of fossils.

Fossil Cases
The first has to do with invertebrates in the limestone rock, which are particularly important because they can provide data on the age of the rock in which the cave was formed. But the best-known aspect of cave paleontology is the discovery of fossilized animal bones of prehistoric times.

Dating & Significance of Fossils
Dating with paleontological data is the so-called biochronology, it is indirect dating and is based on the evolution of species and its continuous character. Paleontology can date both at the species level, based on the morphological or metrological evolutionary characteristics of an animal, and at the level of a set of animals, based on the coexistence of characteristic animals, which are located in some geological horizons in the sediments. The second is possible due to the fact that during the course of life, some animals disappear, while new ones appear. These events delimit seasons and dating is done by correlations and comparisons.

The caves are natural archives of information of the past, useful to both archaeologists and paleontologists, as inside they are ideal fossil conditions. However, fossils are not found in all caves, on the contrary, their finding is rare and that is why they are of great importance.

The cave of Perama is important for the Greek area, since fossils have been found from the extinct bear cave (Ursus spelaeus). A. Petrocheilou states: "in this (the cave of Perama) I found for the first time in Greece in 1956 a bear cave tooth". The discovery of the fossils was reported in 1957 by I. Petrochilos, at the International Conference I.N.Q.U.A. in Madrid. Later, in 1979, fossils of the Perama cave were studied by Professors N. Symeonidis and G. Theodorou of the University of Athens.

The material of the study of the above includes bones of the transcranial skeleton, missing teeth or teeth in a part of the upper jaw, ie in position. The material is very typical for the identification of the bear cave based on morphological and metric characteristics. These fossils belong to the period of the Upper Pleistocene where this animal lived and spread.

The bear cave is one of the largest bears that lived, weighing up to half a ton, with a height of more than 2.5 meters in an upright position, a large skull with a reclining forehead and a generally strong skeleton. This bear is a very typical animal of the Upper Pleistocene period (10,000-100,000 years) for the area of ​​Europe and Greece.

During this period the conditions were different with the appearance of recurring glacial periods. For these animals, the caves were often a place of living, hibernation, genesis of the young and so their remains are almost always found among the fossils found in them. In some cases, fossils are found only from a bear cave, as is the case in the cave of Perama.

The area of ​​Ioannina was very different in the geological past. The rocks that make it up today were created millions of years ago, when instead of land Ioannina was part of an ocean that separated Africa from Eurasia. This happened during the Mesozoic century (AD), when other parts of the world were dominated by dinosaurs and other terrestrial and marine organisms, very different from today. Thus, throughout the oceanic period, it received at its bottom a huge thickness of sediments - deposits, which were deposited horizontally, occupying its entire area. Sometimes this was done in shallower sea conditions and sometimes in deeper ones.

Geological Past
Towards the end of this century, in the period called Senonio (about 70 to 80 million BC), carbonaceous materials continued to be deposited on the seabed, mainly skeletal remains of marine organisms, which over time, were to be converted. on the hard and solid limestone rock of Goritsa hill of Perama.

Geological changes
But for that to happen, major geological changes had to take place to turn the ocean into land. In order for the rocks to emerge, it was necessary to compress them, which meant the closing of the ocean basin between Africa and Eurasia. This was due to the proximity of one continent to another, ie their convergence.

These changes occurred during the geological period of the Oligocene-Lower Miocene (about 35-15 million BC), which compacted the once horizontally formed rocks and folded them to emerge. From these events onwards, the geological history of the area begins to be more decisive for the current picture it presents. This was followed, at the end of the Miocene period (approximately 5 million years ago), by the initial configuration of the Ioannina basin.

Then the dissolving limestone, which formed the basin, began to erode from the rainwater - a process called karst erosion - causing it to expand and deepen. The streams and torrents of the adjacent mountains masses flowed into the basin, transporting sediments from the erosion of the rocks that crossed. These materials were deposited at the bottom of the basin, "shielding" it. Thus during the Pleistocene (5-2 cm BC) water is concentrated in the basin, unable to escape inside the rocks and forms a large lake.

From this period onwards the area of ​​the lake gradually decreases, the erosion processes shape the neighboring mountains and hills, the groundwater forms caves and each geological event finally shapes the current image of the area.

An additional factor in this formation was the presence of glaciers and the corresponding periods during the Pleistocene. Around this geological period at the end of the Pleiocene or the beginning of the Pleistocene (1.8 million years ago) the cave of Perama was created, ie in the very recent geological past.

Bear Cave - Ursus etruscus. The ancestral forms of the bear first appeared about 20 million years ago (the genus Ursavus), followed by the species Ursus etruscus, which gave the 2 million years main branches: the "bear" branch with the current brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the "cave" branch with Ursus deningeri initially up to 100 thousand years and finally with the bear cave (Ursus spelaeus) up to 10 thousand years, ie until the end of the last glacial period, the date. With its extinction, this branch of evolution ceased and today there is no species of bear that is considered its offspring.

Cave Bear
The cave bear, although it was an animal of greater body mass than today's brown bear, had eating habits with an obvious vegetarian tendency, as shown by the formation of its dentures. Perhaps this difference was decisive for its disappearance.

Finally, perhaps prehistoric man also played an important role in its extinction. A new excavation paleontological research in the cave followed, in 1992-93, the results of which were announced in 1994 at the 5th International Conference (Athens-Crete) on "Development, evolution and Environment of Caves" and were published in the Bulletin of the Hellenic Speleological Society. .

This study, by Professors P. Pavlakis, A. Fistani and N. Symeonidis, provided new data on the paleontology of the cave of Perama. He identified, in addition to the bear cave, the presence of the fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the chamois (Capra ibex).

It is also important that the new bear material differs from what has been studied in the past, because it presents more primitive characters and reveals an archaic Ursus spelaeus, which alternatively, can be considered an advanced Ursus deningeri.

The presence of a bear phylogenetically earlier than the cave, indicates a rich fauna for a long period of time, which may approach the Lower Middle Pleistocene and complements the previous views.

However, apart from that part of the Cave, which is accessible to visitors, there is also the unexplored Cave, the so-called "Unknown Cave". Wonderful natural formations from stalactites and stalagmites, compose an idyllic setting of infinite beauty