An image of the cave uploaded to social networks after the first inspection. / / @AAMM_AND

The Junta vows to protect the recently-discovered La Araña cave

The Minister of Culture, Patricia del Pozo, on a visit to Torrox, has guaranteed its conservation, even if no archaeological remains are found inside

REGINA SOTORRÍO

The Junta de Andalucía has pledged to protect a recently-discovered cave found near a quarry area operated by the La Araña cement factory, regardless of whether archaeological remains are found there.

This was stated by the regional government's Minister of Culture and Historical Heritage, Patricia del Pozo, on a visit to Torrox.

It is unknown if there was a time when prehistoric man took refuge among these geological formations, but its environmental value in itself justifies its safeguarding, she said.

Experts have now carried out a third inspection of the cave in search of any sign of human occupation, or whether there are objects or paintings made by prehistoric man. The results will dictate precisely what level of protection the caves will receive. «If important archaeological remains are found, we will intervene,» said the councillor.

But even if nothing is found inside the cave, action will be taken to ensure its conservation. «The cave itself has an important environmental and geological value. In any case, whether or not archaeological remains appear, the cave will be protected,» Del Pozo promised.

The cavern is located close to the Navarro IV karst complex, declared a site of cultural interest (BIC) by the Junta de Andalucía. For the moment, the cement company FYM-Heidelberg has stopped activity in the quarry in the area where the cave is located (the rest of the site is working normally) until the final reports of the Junta de Andalucía are known.

The Minister of Culture wanted to reassure the public who, in recent weeks, have mobilised themselves on social media networks to prevent the destruction of the cave. The priority, she said, is «the conservation of the remains always respecting the law and, as far as possible, making it compatible with the day-to-day operations and the life of the people»; which she summed up as «conservation in a sustainable way».

Junta de Andalucía environmental agents reported the cave find and shared the first images at the end of June. Since then, others have shared images that have revealed the magnitude of the cave, with impressive geological formations, vaulted ceilings and numerous stalactites and stalagmites.

«It is a spectacular example of natural architecture,» said the archaeologist Juan Manuel Muñoz Gambero. For this reason, the expert says it must be protected, even if there is no discovery of human traces in it.