Azerbaijan is one of the ancient human habitats. This became known from Azikh cave that was discovered in Karabagh. This cave is located at a distance of 14 km from Fizuli region. The remains of primitive man’s jaws discovered at this archaeological monument prove that Azerbaijan was inhabited by humans 350,000-400,000 years ago. This human is called the Azikh man. It is the fourth find in the world. Traces of a 700,000-year-old hearth have also been found here. Scratches on the skull of a bear found here clearly indicate that the Azikh people were totemistic, i.e. they worshipped animals. Apart from that, numerous stone tools have been found here as well. In general, with the help of the Azikh cave, we can get comprehensive information about the Stone Age of Azerbaijan, including Karabagh.
The Azikh cave is located on the left bank of the Quruchay River on the southeastern slope of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains in southwestern Azerbaijan. The cave is located on the territory of Azerbaijan’s Fizuli region. It is to be regretted that the Azerbaijani territory, where the cave inhabited by the world’s most ancient people in the past is located, has been under Armenian occupation since 1993, and there has been no information about the state of the cave since the occupation.
The area of the Azikh cave is 800 square metres. It has 8 corridors of up to 600 metres in length. Some of the corridors are 20-25 metres high. The Azikh cave is also the largest of the caves discovered in the Caucasus so far.
There is very little information about the Azikh cave in the world, because in the former Soviet Union, scientists who carried our research in the cave and spoke out about its history were not allowed to establish contacts with their counterparts abroad. As a result, the world still knows very little about the fact that Azerbaijani territory was inhabited by one of the world’s most ancient humans.
Although residents of the area where the Azikh cave is located were aware of this cave, they did not have any information about its role in history. In their view, it was a dangerous place inhabited by none other than dragons and other mysterious creatures. Therefore, people were afraid to approach the cave.
An expedition led by the Azerbaijani archaeologist Mammadali Huseynov discovered the cave in 1960 and tried to lift the curtain covering it. It became clear that it was inhabited by the world’s most ancient inhabitants. Following researches, it became known that it was at least 350,000-400,000 years old.
At least one of the teeth in the jaws is intact, while another one is partly broken. Scientists believe that it belonged to an 18-year-old woman. People of this age were regarded as old at the time, because the life expectancy in those days was 20-22 years in average. After the discovery of this valuable find, the Azikh cave drew even more attention.
A short while later, stone tools belonging to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages were found in the cave. It is believed that these tools are 1-1.5 million years old. According to specialists, the jaws found in the Azikh cave are the fourth oldest in the world. Such archaeological finds attributed to earlier periods were discovered in Tanzania, Kenya and France. This fact is enough to prove that Azerbaijan is one of the most important human habitats in the world.
Inhabitants of the Azikh cave were engaged in hunting. The 45 types of animal bones found in the cave are graphic proof of this. Some of these animals are now extinct, however among them were also bears and gazelles. According to some scientists, the inhabitants of the cave regarded the bear as holy. Scientists are trying to prove this based on the fact that bear skulls were arranged in a row in the cave. Even the name of the cave is also linked to this fact, because in the ancient Turkic language, “azikh” means a bear.
Hearths have also been discovered in the Azikh cave. These hearths were surrounded with stones from outside. It is believed that people used the five hearths found in the cave not only for cooking, but also for maintaining the fire. Near one of these hearths, there is a crescent-shaped 30-cm thick wall. The main reason why this wall was built was to protect a nearby settlement from fire.
All this proves that Azerbaijan was inhabited by the world’s most ancient inhabitants.