Anfeh Caves: Discovery and Tourism

Thu 22 Aug 2019 at 11:34 Know Lebanon

NNA - Through the ocean waves, at Taht el Rih Beach in Anfeh, Ber Saideh cave unfolds, with its roof settled partially above the water, as are roofs of other neighboring caves.


This means that natural changes are occurring and water is receding, which might lead in coming geologic periods to unravel the whole cave, just like the rest of caves currently spread in the town.


Historically, according to geomorphology, a series of sedimentary hills has naturally appeared on Anfeh's beach in the late fourth geological age due to volatile climate changes between hot and cold.


These hills were covered by the sea as a result of thawing in the two poles. According to researchers, even the sea level passed Anfeh to reach Zakroun and Barghoun' hills.


However, the water was declining with the return of icy weather in later ice ages.


As a result of marine sand sediments, a series of hills formed at the slopes of the western side of Anfeh extending to the east, the most important of which are St. Anthony's hill, St. John's lowland, Al-Baraka hill, Sheq Hama hill, Al Ain hill and Algheer hill.


The sea decline period contributed to the formation of a series of caves, due to conflicting sea waves in these rocky hills. The period of the retreat of the sea contributed to the formation of a cave chain, due to conflicting sea waves in these rocky hills. The most notable of these caves is the Sheq cave, which is currently 20 meters above sea level; it has existed since over 80,000 years. In addition, there are the Algheer caves, most notably Algheer spring cave, Al Amoud cave, and Sheq Hama cave, as well as Al Barakeh spring cave, St. John's caves, the caves of St. Anthony's hill, the Bziza cave, the cave facing Las Salinas, the Jeneya cave, and the Druze cave facing Marina Del Sol resort.


All these caves are spread along Anfeh Beach, covering a distance of around 2 km. There are more than 25 caves and Kafiya, the small cave or shelter under the rocks, as the Anfeh people call it.


However, out of all of these caves, the Sheq one is considered the most important, as it had witnessed human life during the Stone Age, when humans observed the sea movement during its tides and moved from one place to another. The real-estate property on which the cave lies is owned by Mikhail Sassin's family. It had been used as an animal barn by many families. The Sassine family has been working since 2004 to clean, rehabilitate, and combine its two parts, to turn it into a heritage exhibition comprising examples of all traditional tools used by humans throughout history.


In order to preserve the traditional atmosphere, the fossils occupy a whole corner in the cave, forming purely scientific evidence that the sea had flooded the place with what remained on the rocks from traces of types of shells, bones and flint fragments.


The Sassine family thus transformed, thanks to the efforts of its two sons, engineers Jerji and Hatem, the Sheq cave into a semi-ethnographic heritage museum open to educational, cultural, environmental, scientific, and tourist, and visits, in order to highlight the history of the caves and the region in prehistoric periods.


The Sassine brothers restored and preserved the cave without compromising its historical natural features. On every occasion, they try to shed light to the visitors on the caves and their role in the history of civilizations and religions, and to the way humans lived before, through concrete exhibits, images and models such as tools for setting fire to flint stones, making stone tools, and so on.


The Sheq cave well-attracted tourists. It is an annual stop in the tours held in parallel with the festivals of Enfeh, and inside it is celebrated the memory of its young patrons (the people of the cave) on the 22nd of October each year. However, the attention of Anfeh people is turned towards Ber Saydeh cave, which is submerged in water, and other adjacent caves, seeking to explore them and promote marine tourism.


==============S.A.D./R.H.

 

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