The four elements: Cueva de las Estegamitas and the element Earth

The pre-Socratic philosophers of the historical Greek period tried to get closer to the answer to a fundamental question (what is the universe made of?), by combining four elements, which they considered primordial, called “earth”, “water”, “air” and “fire.”
This model, although far from being correct, was popularized among natural philosophers thanks to Aristotle and was used for a long time, until in the 18th century the scientific foundations of current Chemistry were laid, thanks to which we know the real essence, or nature, of things.
Although the model is outdated from a scientific point of view, it allows us to make a very graphic synthesis of the nature of Cueva de las Estegamitas, through a simple approach from four different perspectives, comparable to the four classical primordial elements.
Starting with the “earth”, the cave opens on limestone rocks of marine origin and Jurassic age. Deposited from the bottom of an ancient sea called Tethys, about 175 million years ago.
The limestone rock, outcropping in the rock massifs of the cantals (cliffs) between Málaga and Rincón de la Victoria, is generally well stratified, folded and fractured. Sometimes chaotic sections or disorganized breccias can be observed due to latter geological processes.
They are white or creamy in colour, characteristic of their almost entirely calcareous composition, with few impurities. The rocks are formed by calcite (calcium carbonate), although it is common to find some accessory minerals scattered, such as some iron sulphides (pyrite) and numerous pyrolusite dendrites (a mineral formed by manganese dioxide). These minerals offer a very peculiar image of these limestones, that belong to what geologists call the Maláguide Complex, and have been used ever since the Roman ages, up to the present day for the construction of architectural elements.

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