Commune: Chęciny (pow. kielecki, woj. świętokrzyskie)

Framework element or context represented:
Cave in Devonian limestones, Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross) Mts., Kielce subregion; Late Pleistocene cave sediments, calcite speleothems.

Primary geological/geomorphological interest:
Karst form, paleontological and archeological site.

Comparative assessment justification:
Raj cave is one of the most important paleontological site of Late Pleistocene vertebrates and mousterian culture in Poland playing significant role in public education of geo(morpho)logy and archeology.

Protection status and accessibility:
Nature reserve “Jaskinia Raj” (since 1968), accessible for public (show cave).

Character of site: Cave.

Area: 7.78 ha

Altitude: 250-263 m a.s.l.

Lithology: limestones, sands, silts, clays

Discipline: Palaeobiology, Geomorphology, Palaeoenvironment, Stratigraphy of Quaternary, Mineralogy

Process Age: Holocene, Pleistocene, Neogene, *all periods

Bedrock Age: Holocene, Pleistocene, Devonian, *all periods

Description of primary interest:
Karst cave 240 m long developed in the Devonian bedded limestones. It consists of three main horizontal passages, which converge near the entrance (now the cave is opened through artificial gallery and two longer passages are connected with artificial gallery). The passages are attributed by very irregular shape and form more or less extensive chambers in same places. Lower part of the passages is filled with varicoloured clayey-silty-sandy sediments of Late Pleistocene covered by calcite flowstone. Fossils occur in almost every 12 layers distinguished in the sediments, whereas numerous archaeological artifacts were found in layer no 4 and 6. The fossils represent bones of mammals (also large animals), birds, reptiles, amphibians and rare fishes as well as shells of gastropods. Detailed studies of the lithology, paleontological and archaeological materials of the rock sequence enable reconstruction of climatic and environmental changes during last glacial period (Vistulian, Würm). The cave sediments were deposited in the period preceding the first climatic minimum, during this minimum and after the main climatic minimum of this glacial. Archeological materials (flint and stone tools, mainly side scrapers) represent Middle Stone Age mousterian culture of charentian group of Neandertals. The Raj cave is abounding with calcite speleothems, which represent various types: stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperries, curtains, ribs as well as basins and dumps (on the cave floor) with pisoids (“cave pearls”). Straw type stalactites are the most frequent and characteristic (their density on the ceiling reach 100-200 per 1 square meter).


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