Animate Caves and Folded Landscapes



The landscape is full of force, energy and process. These qualities come especially into being in places such as caves. Caves are places where landscape is folded into itself and where innards are exposed. Caves are places in a landscape where people can come into direct contact with alien, inhuman nature, and where the weirdness, power and horror of nature can be felt. Caves are places where non-human meaning bubbles forth in chaotic affective atmospheres that can best be described as spectral and haunting. Caves are places where this excess of non-human meaning must be brought under control. It is dangerous; if it comes too close, it can break, dissolve or negate existing concepts, representations and ideas. It can shatter the symbolic order. It requires significant effort to contain. But if we are successful, it is an unlimited source of creativity, vitality and power; it offers all sorts of alien wisdom, insight and imagination. Human interaction with caves can be seen as attempts at domestication of this alien power. This relationship between caves and landscape is explored using a case study from the Škocjan Caves, Slovenia.


Cave Landscape Affect Meaning Ritual Prehistory Karst 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Archaeology, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Centre for Preventive ArchaeologyInstitute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of SloveniaLjubljanaSlovenia

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