Re: Rock shelter definition

Royden Yates (
Mon, 6 Mar 1995 21:29:02 GMT

In article <3jcsgv$> () writes:

>I've lately developed an interest in paleoanthropology, despite having no
>background in the area. Many sources refer to caves and "rock shelters"
>but no definitions are provided. One book has a picture of a rock
>shelter. From this single example, I believe that a rock shelter is a
>shallow opening in a rock face, perhaps with an "entrance" wider than it
>is deep. A cave would be deeper, and usually be larger inside than its
>entrance. Am I correct?

Perhaps not too much importance should be attached to these terms. In my
experience in South Africa they are used VERY loosely. It probably
depends a great deal on where one is working. In South Africa deeply
penetrating cave systems ala France are very rare. Thus, most archaeological
sites associated with rock masses are shelters by your definition. We tend to
use the word cave if it has a respectable depth relative to the width at the
mouth. Any French archaeologist is likely to have a very different image in
mind when thinking about a cave.