Vela Spila is a cave situated above the town of Vela Luka on the island of Korčula, in Croatia. Located above Pinski Rat at an elevation of approximately 130 metres. The cave consists of an elliptically shaped cavern that measures 40 metres in length, 17 metres in height, and is approximately 40 metres wide. There are two openings in the roof of the cave which were caused by collapse. The time frames of these two collapses are still undetermined. Vela Spila means "Big Cave" in Croatian.
Nikola Ostoic was the first person to describe the cave in modern literature. In 1856 he wrote "Compendio Storico Dell Isola Di Curzola" . He himself was a local historian, Museum Commissioner and collector of antiquities. He visited the cave in 1835. The cave has been mentioned in the Korčula Statute back in the 15th century.
Scientific research of the cave started in the late 1940s. Marinko Gjivoje  visited the site in 1949. In 1951, Marinko Gjivoje, Boris Ilakovac and Vinko Foretic did test excavations and the results were promising. Based on these findings Grga Novak decided to test excavate in order to confirm the caves links with the island of Hvar. The explorations were carried out in September 1951. He published his preliminary results in the Annals of Yugoslav Academy.
Since 1974 fieldwork has been proceeding almost annually. Firstly it was led by Grga Novak and since 1978 by Bozidar Cecuk. Franko Oreb is a permanent member of the excavation crew and Dinko Radic joined the excavation in 1986.
There are Mesolithic and Neolithic finds dating back to 7380-7080 BC . Further findings have been dated 13 500-12 600 BC. Radiocarbon dating has shown that there was human activity going back 20 000 years.
Post-Neolithic layers of Vela Spila have events of a population living within the cave. Eneolithic period has reference with Hvar Culture. This phase is immediately followed with a layer of a compact Bronze Age.
In 1986 remains of two adults where found. Scientific research dated their bodies back to late Neolithic times. The local towns people of Vela Luka called them Baba i Dida, meaning Grandma & Grandpa.
Early ceramic art
Further excavations between 2001 and 2006, produced 36 ceramic artifacts dated to the late Upper Palaeolithic period, about 17,500 to 15,000 years ago. These finds are the only examples of ceramic figurative art in southeastern Europe during the Upper Palaeolithic.
- Vela Spila-Korcula Island/Vela Luka
- Marinko Gjivoje-Archaeologist (twentieth century)
- Yugoslav Academy-Arheoloska Istrazivanja na otocima Korčula i Hvar u 1951. i 1952., Ljetopis JAZU, 59, Zagreb 1954
- Faculty of Philosophy-University of Zagreb
- Museums in Croatia
- Croatia, 4th: Tread Your Own Path By Jane Foster
- National Geographic Hrvatska
- Farbstein, Rebecca; Radić, Dinko; Brajković, Dejana; Miracle, Preston T (July 2012), First Epigravettian Ceramic Figurines from Europe (Vela Spila, Croatia), Public Library of Science, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041437
- Archaeologists uncover Palaeolithic ceramic art
- First Epigravettian Ceramic Figurines from Europe (Vela Spila, Croatia)