History of karstology and speleology

This course is part of the programme
Karstology (Third Cycle)

Objectives and competences

Karstology as an independent science is a very young science as an interdisciplinary mix of different disciplines is much older. The question of how they arise and how the various karst phenomena have worked since ancient times as well as technical solutions associated with them, especially with karst water. Issues that affect the karst, have done so in the greatest scholars of antiquity (Pozejdonij) as the Middle Ages (Leonardo da Vinci) to the recent past (Humboldt). Especially important for us to have the beginnings of karstology. The first speleological society and professional organization for the study of karst are incurred for the purpose of karst studies in Carniola. The student should be aware that the knowledge of karst slowly collected and accumulated, worldwide, until she gave birth to the idea that something special karst, while subject to the same laws of wherever. Getting to know the milestones from other sciences relevant to the Karst Science (physics, chemistry), as well as milestones in the very learning about karst, including landmarks such as basic Karstological work. From this perspective, there are many raw materials, are still unknown number of connections between individual elements and knowledge, and thus sufficient material to individual students' work. Particular emphasis is given to share our knowledge of karst and our researchers in developing karstology. In this context let me mention only the names of Karst development in the international dates and the introduction of other terms of the Dinaric karst areas in the terminology. Students must be familiar with the knowledge and perception of karst underground throughout history, even before the real caving activities, with slopes that are forcing people into the ground, and with the beginnings of a genuine exploration of the caves. Must be able to properly evaluate caving achievements, both on the ground and theoretical, at different times and in different parts of the world. Particular emphasis is on the development and significance of speleology in today's Slovenian territory, which was the development of speleology utmost importance.




• Knowledge of karst in older periods of prehistory
• Knowledge of karst in metal periods
• Knowledge of karst in antiquity, the ancient sources on karst, the ancient scholars and their theories of karst phenomena
• Today Slovenian karst in antiquity
• Knowledge of the karst in the Middle Ages
• Valvasor and contemporaries on karst
• Research in the Slovenian Karst during 18 cent
• Knowledge of the karst in the world before Martel
• A time of great insights on karst - karst becomes a generic term
• Karst and Karst Science they obtain a global dimension (the 19th and the first half of the 20th century)
• Knowledge, visiting and use of caves in the earlier periods of prehistory
• Meaning of caves for the metal era, especially Hallstt period of Carniola
• Knowing caves in antiquity, the ancient sources of karst caves, ancient scholars and their theories about the karst caves
• The oldest mention of caves with present-day Slovenian territory
• Valvasor and contemporaries of the caves.
• The beginning of modern speleological research in Slovenian karst
• "Classic" speleological research in the Inner Carniola and Littorasl region of karst (Schmidl, Putick, Martel, Hanke)
• The beginnings of organized caving activities in the world and in Slovenia

Intended learning outcomes

The student is aware of and it's also able to explain and justify that karstology relatively young science, but people were already dealing with the ancient karst, even with his research. To be familiar with knowledge of karst in prehistory and antiquity, ancient authors who were interested in the karst phenomena. He needs to know that the next round of the Western authors karst phenomena known elsewhere in the world, from the Middle East to China. To be familiar with the term karst development, detailed knowledge of the history of the Dinaric, especially its north-western part, karst features and trends karstology today and current tasks. Students are able to explain and justify to the speleology very long prehistory, starting with caves, which are visited and used by primitive man. To be familiar with a very extensive use of caves (of homes, workshops, warehouses, tourist caves to temples) from the recent past to the present. Master the basic concepts of theoretical and practical speleology.


• Brown, E., 1673: An accompt from the same Dr. Brown Concerning an Vn-common Lake, called Zirchnitzer-See, in Carniola.- Phil. Trans. R. S., 54, 1083-1085, London. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstl.1669.0054 E-version
• Cvijić, J., 1893: Das Karstphänomen. Versuch einer morphologischen Monographie. Geogr. Abhandl. (Penck), (B), 5/3, 1-114, Stuttgart.
• Gams, I., 1974: Kras. Zgodovinski, naravoslovni in geografski oris.- Slovenska matica, 359 pp., Ljubljana.
• Habič, P., 1995: The karstologists in the second half of the 20th century.- Acta carsologica, XXIV, 33-40, Ljubljana. E-version
• Kranjc, A., 1994: About the name and the history of the region Kras.- Acta carsologica, XXIII, 81-90, Ljubljana. E-version
• Kranjc, A. & J. Kogovšek, 1994: Krasoslovje in speleologija.- Raziskovalec, 24, 1, 16-31, Ljubljana.
• Kraus, F., 1894: Höhlenkunde.- Carl Gerold’s Sohn, 308 pp. Wien. E-version
• Kranjc, A., 2010: Short history of research. In: Mihevc, A. et al. (eds.), Introduction to the Dinaric Karst, 9-13, Postojna. E-version
• Kyrle, G., 1923: Grundriss der teoretischen Speläologie. –Speläol. Monographien, B. I, str. XVIII + 353, Wien.
• Nicod, J. & M. Julian & E. Anthony, 1997: A historical review of man-karst relationships: miscellaneous uses of karst and their impacts.- Riv. Geogr. Ital., 103 (1996), pp. 289-338
• Penck, A., 1904: Über das Karstphänomen.- Vorträge des Vereines Verbreitung naturwiss. Kentnisse in Wien, 44/1, 1-38, Wien. E-version
• Schmidl, A., 1854: Die Grotten von und Höhlen Adelsberg, Lueg, Mountain und Laas. 316 p., Braumüller, Wien.
• Shaw, T. R., 1992: History of Cave Science.- Pp. 338, Sydney.
• Shaw, T. R., 1994: Leonbergerjeva pesem o Cerkniškem kraškem jezeru iz leta 1537.- Annales, 4, 193-206, Koper. E-version
• Sweeting, M. M. (edit.), 1981: Karst geomorphology.- Benchmark Papers in Geology, 59, 427 pp., Hutchinson Ross Publ. Comp., Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
• Trimmel, H., 1968: Höhlenkunde. - Die Wissenschaft, Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, 126, VIII + 300, Braunschweig.


Oral or written examination is intended to control the knowledge attained by a student through a lecture as well as his capacity od understanding. A student can apply for the examination if requiring 50 % presence at seminars and after making short written report (5-10 pages) on a narrow question of the basis of karstology or on a source touching his seminar or doctoral work.

Lecturer's references

Associate professor of Karstology


ŠEGINA, Ela, BENAC, Čedomir, ŠUŠTERŠIČ, France, KNEZ, Martin, ČAR, Jože. Linear features on karst surfaces: an example from Krk Island. Geologia Croatica : a journal of the Institute of Geology Zagreb and Croatian Geological Society. 2021, vol. 74, no. 2, str. 139-151. ISSN 1330-030X. DOI: 10.4154/gc.2021.13. [COBISS.SI-ID 76428803]

KNEZ, Martin, SLABE, Tadej, TRAJANOVA, Mirka, AKIMOVA, Tatjana, KALMYKOV, Igor. The karren peeling off on marbles in Altai (Altai Republic, Russian Federation) = Luščenje škrapelj na marmorjih v Altaju (Altajska republika, Ruska federacija). Acta carsologica. [Tiskana izd.]. 2020, letn. 49, št. 1, str. 11-38, ilustr. ISSN 0583-6050. https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/carsologica/article/view/7197/8248, DOI: 10.3986/ac.v49i1.7197. [COBISS.SI-ID 35064323]

BLATNIK, Matej, CULVER, David C., GABROVŠEK, Franci, KNEZ, Martin, KOGOVŠEK, Blaž, KOGOVŠEK, Janja, LIU, Hong, MAYAUD, Cyril, MIHEVC, Andrej, MULEC, Janez, ALJANČIČ, Magdalena, OTONIČAR, Bojan, PETRIČ, Metka, PIPAN, Tanja, PRELOVŠEK, Mitja, RAVBAR, Nataša, SHAW, Trevor R., SLABE, Tadej, ŠEBELA, Stanka, ZUPAN HAJNA, Nadja, KNEZ, Martin (urednik), OTONIČAR, Bojan (urednik), PETRIČ, Metka (urednik), PIPAN, Tanja (urednik), SLABE, Tadej (urednik). Karstology in the classical karst. Cham: Springer, cop. 2020. XII, 222 str., ilustr., zvd., graf. prikazi. Advances in karst science. ISBN 978-3-030-26826-8. ISSN 2511-2066. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-26827-5. [COBISS.SI-ID 17912067]

KNEZ, Martin, SLABE, Tadej, GABROVŠEK, Franci, KOGOVŠEK, Janja, KRANJC, Andrej, MIHEVC, Andrej, MULEC, Janez, OTONIČAR, Bojan, PERNE, Matija, PETRIČ, Metka, PIPAN, Tanja, PRELOVŠEK, Mitja, RAVBAR, Nataša, ŠEBELA, Stanka, ZUPAN HAJNA, Nadja, BOSÁK, Pavel, PRUNER, Petr, LIU, Hong, KNEZ, Martin (urednik), SLABE, Tadej (urednik). Cave exploration in Slovenia : discovering over 350 new caves during motorway construction on classical karst. Cham [etc.]: Springer, cop. 2016. XIII, 324 str., ilustr. Cave and karst systems of the world. ISBN 978-3-319-21202-9. ISSN 2364-4591. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-21203-6. [COBISS.SI-ID 38828077]

GABROVŠEK, Franci, KNEZ, Martin (avtor, urednik), KOGOVŠEK, Janja, MIHEVC, Andrej, MULEC, Janez, OTONIČAR, Bojan, PERNE, Matija, PETRIČ, Metka (avtor, urednik), PIPAN, Tanja, PRELOVŠEK, Mitja, SLABE, Tadej (avtor, urednik), ŠEBELA, Stanka (avtor, urednik), TURK, Janez, ZUPAN HAJNA, Nadja. The Beka-Ocizla cave system : karstological railway planning in Slovenia. Cham [etc.]: Springer, cop. 2015. X, 102 str., ilustr., zvd. Cave and karst systems of the world. ISBN 978-3-319-04455-2, ISBN 978-3-319-04456-9. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-04456-9. [COBISS.SI-ID 56041570]