Archaeological Park Divje Babe, which lies in the area of the Idrija and Cerkno hills, is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Early Stone Age in the world. In a steep and rocky slope, which descends from the Šebrelje plateau into the valley of the Idrijca river, a cave lies hidden. Bones from more than 60 different animal types (among which the cave bear prevails), stone and bone tools and remains of fire pits of the ice-age humans were found in the cave. Divje Babe is an archaeological site dating back to the period of the middle (Mousterian) and early upper Palaeolithic (Aurignacian). The multi-layered archaeological site is chronologically dated with various radiometric dating methods. The age of dated layers ranges from 35,000 to 116,000 years. The youngest layers that have been researched so far and yielded Palaeolithic finds, were made in the age of the last Neanderthals and first anatomically modern humans.
This famous discovery happened in 1995, when during the excavations performed by Ivan Turk and Janez Dirjec from the Institute of Archaeology ZRC SAZU, the world's oldest musical instrument was discovered in the Mousterian layer. This unusual musical instrument, neither a flute nor a whistle, was cemented near the remains of a 50,000 – 60,000 years old Neanderthal fire pit, made from the thigh bone of a young cave bear into which the Neanderthal drilled three holes and made a sharpened rim for the mouthpiece using tools made of bone and stone. The natural shape of the chosen left thigh bone, its size and artificial redesign is ergonomically sound and adapted for a right-handed musician. Therefore it cannot be random. This incredible find from the Archaeological Park Divje Babe is at least 10,000 years older and significantly more capable than all other previously known Palaeolithic flutes in Europe made from bird bones by the first anatomically modern humans. That is why we cannot simply speak of a flute any longer, but rather of a musical instrument of a special kind, one which profoundly changed our views of the Neanderthal, who went extinct 30,000 years ago. This discovery represents pivotal evidence that the Neanderthal was, like us, a fully developed spiritual being, capable of sublime artistic creation such as music.
Archaeological Park Divje Babe offers numerous inviting attractions besides the Palaeolithic site. The karst plateu is where one finds the village of Šebrelje, which features a unique micro-climate that has a positive effect on the well-being and health of people. This special micro-climate also features heavily in providing the conditions for drying and maturing of a culinary speciality – Šebreljski stomach. The diversity of the area is outlined by the Kazarska grapa gorge, an interesting ravine that excites with its natural beauty, such as the natural bridge, troughs and rapids, emerald pools and layers of tufa. The valley of the Idrijca river also attracts with its pristine beauty and purity.
On the northern edge of the Archaeological Park Divje Babe there is an archaeological site called Grad pri Reki, where several archaeological finds from the early Iron Age and the beginning of the roman period originate from. The remote hilly regions of Tolmin and Cerkno were annexed to the Roman state in the last decades of the first century B.C. Objects dating back to that period give witness to how the Roman army besieged the strongholds of the native inhabitants on the Grad pri Reki and Gradišče near the town of Cerkno. The native inhabitants of these parts back then were most likely Karns, who inhabited the wider North-Adriatic outskirts including the regions of Karst, Notranjska and Posočje and all the way up to the town of Kranj as it stands today and where Octavian defeated them in the first two years of the Illyricum wars (35–34 B.C.). The similarity of the finds on both sites leave no room for doubt as to the fact that both sieges were a part of the same, larger military advance. The Grad pri Reki, which lies on a ridge around which the narrow valley of the Idrijca river must make a bend, has so far been better explored. Numerous iron tips of catapult munitions, spears and various type of arrowheads and lead bullets (acorns) that were shot with slings and also hobnails, which Roman soldiers used in the soles of their footwear and clamps worn by Roman soldiers to fasten their robes, were found in the wider area of the archaeological site Grad pri Reki and towards the village of Police. These finds of roman weaponry and military equipment are extremely valuable due to their rarity and the history they tell of the Roman military siege. They were discovered in the exact location where the conflict took place In the area of the Archaeological Park Divje Babe, near the road from the Kazarska grapa gorge towards the turn for the road to the village of Bukovo, lies a burial ground dating back to the early Iron Age. They buried their dead here in the 1st century B.C. and during the beginning of the Roman period. The youngest graves date back to the time when emperor Augustus ruled (up to 14 A.D.) In these graves lay the descendants of the warriors who clashed with the Romans in the middle of the 4th decade B.C. in the area of Grad pri Idrijci. Among the items recovered from the graves are clamps for clothing, jewellery, weapons (helmets, swords, spearheads and parts of shields) and agricultural tools and axes.
The wider area of the park includes the famous pentagram, described by Ivan Mohorič, which is formed by the churches in the near vicinity of the area: the Church of St. Paul in Straža, the Church of St. Ursula in Jagrše, the Church of St. George in Šebrelje, the Church of St. Ivan at the edge of Šebrelje plateau and the contact point intersected by directions Jagrše – Bukovo and the Church of St. Ivan with the Church of St. Urlich in Ravne. The Gothic Church of St. Ivan stands on top of what was once a pagan temple of the sun. The place offers a beautiful sightseeing point of the surrounding hills, littered with villages and the valley of the Idrijca River.
We would like to request that all individual visits and groups, especially of school children, are booked and notified on time and in advance at least seven days before the desired visit and that the difficulty of the programme is discussed with the management. Because of the descent and the visit to the cave, comfortable clothes and sport shoes are mandatory. Visitors under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian.