Spanish cave could hold origins of astronomy

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A cave located on Spain’s Canary Islands, in what was probably the aboriginal region of Artevigua, could reveal an unsuspected knowledge of astronomy by the ancient islanders since it marks equinoxes and solstices, while inside it the light recreates images related to fertility.

Spanish cave could hold origins of astronomy
Light from the rising sun enters the cave’s  5-metre high dome room, from the spring equinox
onwards and is visible inside for about two hours every day from March to September
[Credit: Gran Canaria]

The cave was used as a temple and, besides its astronomical function, the light creates in its interior a mythological account of fertility, the likes of which exist nowhere else in the world,” archaeologist Julio Cuenca, who has investigated the area since the 1990s, said.

“It’s like a projector of images from a vanished culture,” Cuenca told Efe, adding that during a six-month period the light creates phallic images on cave walls that are covered with engravings of female pubic triangles.

As the months go by, the projections of sunlight gradually cover the triangles, and as the summer solstice approaches and fall arrives, the images are transformed into that of a pregnant woman, and finally, into a seed, the archaeologist said.

Cuenca, who at the time was chief curator of the Canary Museum and a specialist in researching mountain sanctuaries of the ancient Canarians, discovered the cave while copying engravings in the nearby cave of Los Candiles in Artenara.

It was this region the archaeologist identified with ancient Artevigua, an important settlement of the earliest Canarians, whose place names disappeared in the 18th century, possibly due to the eagerness of the Catholic Church to Hispanicize place names used by previous inhabitants.

Source: Hispanically Speaking News [April 22, 2014]

1 COMMENT

  1. I'm having a difficult time finding out the age of this cave using google. If I assume from Wikipedia's origination of the ancient Canarian people (the Guanches) at 1000 BC to be the earliest this cave could have come into existence, then I wouldn't claim the cave as the first evidence of astronomy by ancient peoples.

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