From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Throughout history, primitive peoples have made use of caves for shelter, burial, or as religious sites. Since items placed in caves are protected from the climate and scavenging animals, this means caves are an archaeological treasure house for learning about these people. Cave paintings are of particular interest. One example is the Great Cave of Niah, in Malaysia, which contains evidence of human habitation dating back 40,000 years.
In the animal kingdom, caves offer shelter, including uses such as maternity dens.
Caves are also important for geological research because they can reveal details of past climatic conditions in speleothems and sedimentary rock layers.
Caves are frequently used today as sites for recreation. Caving, for example, is the popular sport of cave exploration. For the less adventurous, a number of the world's prettier and more accessible caves have been converted into show caves, where artificial lighting, floors, and other aids allow the casual visitor to experience the cave with minimal inconvenience. Caves have also been used for BASE jumping and cave diving. The book Caverns of Magic by Hal G. P. Colebatch surveys some of the instances of cave stories in literature and mythology.
Caves are also used for the preservation or aging of wine and cheese. The constant, slightly chilly temperature and high humidity that most caves possess makes them ideal for such uses.