25 Real Life Cavemen

Did you know that millions of people worldwide live underground? In fact, over twenty million people live in caves in China alone. These numbers don’t count the numbers of individuals who work in underground laboratories, urban cities, and on construction sites as more and more underground facilities are being built.Some individuals live underground or in caves because they’re simply following the paths of their ancestors. Others, like Gerald Fitzpatrick, have taken on the task of refurbishing underground facilities like this missile silo located in Champion, New York. Still others desire a move beneath the ground in order to avoid overcrowded cities and ground surface pollution. Some of these individuals are minimalists, and others live high on the hog. Finally, there are the survivalists – individuals who want to hunker down in some flat space in Middle America.

The following list, which is in no particular order, includes real modern-day cavemen, but it also looks at the other millions of people who reside in underground housing projects, urban cities, and other cave-like structures. Don’t feel left out – plenty of these habitats are for sale!

  1. Andalusian Cave HousesAndalusian Cave Houses – Caves are being rediscovered and refurbished like never before and the resident cave market is booming in Guadix Village, Granada Province, Spain. From Guadix to Galera and all across the Altiplano area near the Sierra Nevada, beautiful homes are carved out of the Andalusian mountainous rocks. The 21st century Andalusian cave house is well equipped with necessary water and electricity supplies; many have phones (and in some cases broadband connection), while others even come complete with Jacuzzi and swimming pool. Want to purchase a cave dwelling? You can find many houses in the region for sale (like the one shown here).
  2. DongzhongDongzhong Cave Students – Primary school students at a Miao village in Ziyun county, southwest China‘s Guizhou province attend classes at the Dongzhong (literally meaning “in cave”). The actual school is built inside a natural cave that was carved out of a mountain naturally by winds, water, and seismic shifts. Although the buildings are used, classes often are held “outside” in the cave.
  3. TroglodytesTunisian Troglodytes – You can find troglodytes (cave dwellers) in desert villages spread around North Africa; however, Matmata and Bulla Regia, both in Tunisia, serve as prime examples of this type of dwelling. Troglodytes are believed to be a relatively recent invention in Saharan architecture, dating from about 1200 AD. While the structures proved to be a success, their uses are limited. This area is also popular for nomads and their Bedouin tents and for ‘regular’ housing. Matmata is home to Sidi Driss, the only troglodyte hotel. This building was used as the actual house of Uncle Owen and Aunt B, the underground home of Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” movies.
  4. Star WarsTunisian Takeover – On the opposite side of the coin, some Tunisian desert people have become inhabitants of the futuristic houses built by George Lucas and company. This set, built in the 1970s, is located a mere three-hour drive from Matmata, mentioned in #3. The dwellers who reside on this movie set may actually help the set from being destroyed or marred with graffiti, as they welcome guests and offer tea in very passive and lean surroundings.
  5. Coober PedyCoober Pedy – Coober Pedy, located in South Australia, is the “Opal Capital of the World.” Many of the residents live underground in dug-out modern homes to escape the outside desert heat. Crocodile Harry, one of Coober Pedy’s most infamous characters, resides in one of the most bizarre dugouts. Many people know him through the Lonely Planet‘s Guidebook to Australia. Others may recognize his home from the underground scenes of “Mad Max-Beyond the Thunderdome.”
  6. Dan PriceThe Man in the Hole – Dan Price is a “modern day hobbit” who lives undergound in an eight-foot circular space near Joseph, Oregon. Although Price has access to underground electricity that powers his lamps and photocopier, he plans to go completely off the grid as he makes a switch to propane within the upcoming year. He’s worked it out so that he can survive on $5,000 per year (including his land rent of $100 per year), and he makes his money through subscriptions to his publication, Moonlight Chronicles. Other supplies are garnered through various corporate entities that sponsor his minimalist quest.
  7. GeotropolisThe Geotropolis Concept – Since the last acre in Tokyo went for US$7.8, the Japanese must become more creative about how to house residents. Since the price of property is now so expensive, it makes economic sense to build underground. More than 50 meters under the earth in the western part of Tokyo, researchers are working on the development of a comfortable subterranean living environment. This SubTerranean Urban Development (STUD) project, which began in 1989, is conducted by Tokyu Construction Co., Ltd. Their lab is located at the end of that 50-meter tunnel, where they develop new technologies that will ensure safety and comfort for underground living.
  8. GamirasuGamirasu Cave House Hotel – Gamirasu is located in in Ayvali Village near Ürgüp in the heart of Cappadocia, Turkey. This eleven-room hotel was restored from a one-thousand-year-old Byzantine monastic retreat, and it provides the chance for any international traveler to become a part-time cave dweller. It offers modern conveniences without distracting from the historic ambiance of the area. You can also view a Christian Byzantine Church, but you will need to wait a number of years before you can tour the underground city located just across from the hotel, as that city has yet to be excavated.
  9. Underground HousingUnderground Housing – If you want to build a home that will protect you from hurricanes, tornados, mobs, and atomic fallout, then you might consider an underground home designed by modern-day underground idealist, Mike Oehler. If you can’t hire Mike, you can order his book, which shows you how to build underground homes from $50 and up. You will learn how to build a house under flat land, drain the house using gravity, and ways to pass or otherwise deal with the building codes.
  10. YaodongYaodong Cave Dwellings – the Yaodong cave dwellings stretch across six provinces in north central China, and almost 20 million people currently living in traditional cave dwellings across the entire northwest Chinese landscape. This architecture currently is being replicated as sustainable and affordable housing for many residents. This particular region in China serves as a model for this architecture, because its yaodongs once served as the early headquarters of a rebel leader named Mao Tse-Tung.
  11. Gates MansionBill Gates’ House – This mansion is a large earth-sheltered abode built into the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Medina, Washington. According to Wikipedia, The house is a modern design in the Pacific lodge style, with classic features such as a large private library and a domed reading room. The house occupies 50,000 square feet on a 5.15-acre lot. Garage space and outbuildings may occupy an additional 16,000 square feet. Property records indicate eight bedrooms and four building levels.
  12. EarthshipDennis Weaver’s Earthship – Dennis Weaver, the late actor-environmentalist, built an earthship near Ridgway, Colorado. An earthship uses tires, aluminum cans, and other recycled material as part of the overall structure, and all or a portion of the home may be built underground. This house uses solar mass to conserve heat and solar power. The home is now for sale.
  13. Underground HouseThe Underground House: This is Cumbria’s first underground home (U.K.), built in an old, disused quarry site. The house has been built into the hole left by the removal of stone from the quarry, making it invisible from behind or the sides. All that can be seen from the front are the double height conservatory and a small array of photovoltaic tiles above the front door, as seen at right in the photo. Combining the shelter of the earth with high levels of insulation means that the house needs no heating whatsoever – all of the heat it needs is available from the sun alone.
  14. Hobbit HouseUnderground Hobbit House: This link leads to pictures and the story of an owner-built home inspired by “The $50 and up Underground House” book (by Mike Oehler – see #8). Using log pole and heavy timber framing with about 18″ of soil and compost on the roof, this underground family uses simple sheds for drainage. The inside photos reveal a comfortable ski-lodge type atmosphere. Follow the link on the Hobbit House page to the forums, where you can find more images of this hand-built underground home.
  15. South Pole Station domeAmundsen-Scott South Pole Station – The original South Pole station, now referred to as “Old Pole,” was built partially underground in 1956 in order to protect its inhabitants from the worst imaginable weather. As with all structures at the South Pole, the original station caused wind-blown snow to build up in the surrounding area. This snow accumulation resulted in the structure being further buried by about four feet of snow per year. The station, abandoned since 1975, is now deeply buried, and the pressure has caused the mostly wooden roof to cave in. The site is therefore a hazardous area and off limits to all visitors. The station was relocated and rebuilt in 1975 as a geodesic dome 50 meters wide and 16 meters high, with 14×24 m steel archways, modular buildings, fuel bladders, and equipment (shown here). But, that building is also becoming buried and unsafe, so another building was constructed in 1999 – this time above ground and with rounded corners so that the wind will scour away the snow and keep the building from being buried under the annual eight inches of accumulated snow.
  16. The Caves DiningThe Caves – You, too, can be a caveman with a dining experience for those who stay at The Caves resort in Negril, Jamaica. Enjoy a “Cocktail Cliffhanger” while you listen to the waves and wait for your dinner to be served in this seaside grotto. While the cottages are above ground and built from conventional materials, the restaurant is nestled in one of the local seaside caves.
  17. Alice CityAlice City – This is another Japanese project, spearheaded by the Taisei Corporation. This $4 billion project would incorporate a very wide and deep shaft, within which would be built levels for habitation, all looking in toward a hollow core topped with a huge skylight. The cost is negligible, considering the cost of the last acre for sale in Tokyo (see #6). Named for Alice in Wonderland, This office/shopping/living space will carry absolutely no heating costs and inhabitants and workers can avoid above-ground pollution. According to Dr. Tomorrow, this concept and the expertise acquired to build this underground “city” will bode well for the Japanese, who may be called upon to help other burgeoning cities to meet population demands.
  18. Montreal's Underground CityMontreal’s Underground City – This “La ville souterraine” (French) is the largest underground network in the world (others situated in places such as China, Paris, Germany, etc.), with 32 kilometers of tunnel that cover more than 41 city blocks (about 12 square kilometers). More than 2,000 shops and 40 cinemas line the passageways. Tourists often visit various attractions in the underground city, which is used by an average of half a million Montrealers per day. Eight metro stations link to smaller networks that are not yet part of the central network, such as Berri UQAM in the eastern part of downtown, and Pie-IX which links venues from the 1976 Summer Olympics. Additionally, other underground networks exist that are not part of the metro system, such as the La Cité housing and retail complex. You can view a map [PDF] to learn more about how far this underground “city” extends.
  19. Sassi di MateraSassi di Matera – Literally, the “Stones of Matera,” Sassi are houses dug into the rock itself in Italy, known locally as “Tufo.” This is the city where Mel Gibson staged his film, “The Passion of the Christ,” a perfect setting as the city looks as though it woke up after a long nap that began about 2,000 years ago. From the photograph, it appears that you’re looking at a ‘regular’ ancient city, because the facades are actually built with bricks, however, as soon as you cross the threshold, you discover that you are inside the mountain.
  20. ICBM SiloICBM Missile Silo Living – You’d need to be a fairly well-to-do caveman to purchase this refurbished ICBM missile silo in Kansas for $1.5million. It went up for auction on eBay in 2001, with a total of 16,000 sq. ft underground floor space and a. 4,000 sq. ft. launch control building that was refurbished into living space. Did you know that you could fit an 1100-gallon hot tub, sauna, kitchen, 3 large carpeted living areas, a home theatre and more into an underground silo? Above ground, the twenty-eight acres included with this purchase included 15 fresh water wells, water pumping windmill, fruit, nut and pine trees and two sewage disposal systems. Primitive, right?
  21. HHPThe Hockerton Housing Project – Become one of the first ‘cavemen’ to reside in the UK’s first earth sheltered, self-sufficient ecological housing development. HHP residents generate their own clean energy, harvest their own water and recycle waste materials causing no pollution or carbon dioxide emissions. The houses are amongst the most energy efficient, purpose built dwellings in Europe. Take some time to learn how the modern caveman lives, as HHP also runs a wide variety of events based at the project, from basic tours to all day technical workshops, from art events to venue hire.
  22. Beckham Creek Cave HavenBeckham Creek Cave Haven – How would you like to vacation in a cave that holds a living area, pool room, and kitchen, along with a venue that can handle a wedding or some other special event? This 2,000 sq. ft. cave house is located in the Buffalo National River country with all the wild beauty of the Ozark countryside in Arkansas. The home is a multi-level five-bedroom facility that offers a family or small group complete privacy for a getaway. The kitchen, which holds a grill, microwave, bread maker, and even two refrigerators, is located toward the front of the cave dwelling, where huge windows provide plenty of light, and where it’s convenient to haul in all those cave-dwelling groceries from the parking lot.
  23. Underground HomeMalcolm Wells – This man often is proclaimed as the ‘father of modern earth-sheltered architecture.’ Whether you agree with this sentiment or not, his Web site holds plenty of valuable information for anyone who wants to build an underground structure. But, be prepared for his purist tendencies, as he states that, “…A building should consume its own waste, maintain itself, match nature’s pace, provide wildlife habitat, moderate climate and weather and be beautiful. That’s a series of pass/fail evaluation criteria….” No matter – most folks who want to build underground structures probably would agree with this man’s ecological perspective.
  24. Stover HouseStover House – Andy Davis is a regular guy who lives underground in a Springfield, Illinois suburb. His disguise is so good that his home looks like a regular home from the front. But, once inside, you discover that some parts of this home are as deep as twenty-two feet underground. The spacious 8,000-square-foot home allows the living room, family room and dining room to soak in the morning sun. Ceramic tiles absorb the heat while the white walls allow for maximum light. As you burrow deeper into the ground, you’ll discover a cozy den and reading room that gets much of its light from a fireplace
  25. Caves of MarsThe Mars Homestead Project – Cavemen in the future may live in cave-like structures on other planets. The Mars Homestead Project, the main project of the Mars Foundation, is developing a unified plan for building the first habitat on Mars by exploiting local materials. One consideration for this project is underground living, which would help to insure that residents are sheltered from the high-radiation environment. According to the Caves of Mars, a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts funded program, natural subsurface cavities and subsurface constructs present the most mission effective habitat alternative for future human missions.

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  1. Loretta Hall
    November 20, 2007

    Underground isn’t just for housing, parking, or subways. For example, in the United States there are at least 500 nonresidential underground buildings designed for human occupancy.

  2. Stuart Bexon
    April 01, 2008

    Very interesting site but you didn’t mention one of the UK’s first earth-sheltered homes. I built Mole Manor in the mid 80’s with a design by Arthur Quarmby.

    I moved out 15 years ago but since then it has had two owners.

  3. Jonas Joyce
    January 09, 2009

    good luck

  4. Bill Blasky
    July 09, 2009

    I’ve been living underground for years now. I highly recommend it. It provides for a lot a privacy so I can masturbate often.

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    May 26, 2011

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