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In the canyon of the Pinturas River, eighty-eight meters high , a cave keeps ancient history, in an unparalleled state of conservation. On its walls and ceiling are very special cave paintings: it is one of the artistic expressions oldest of the villages in South America . The Cueva de las Manos is a must visit for anyone who is transiting the Route 40 by those latitudes. The site is northwest of the province of Santa Cruz, near the towns of Perito Moreno and Bajo Caracoles.
Coming to the place, there is an Interpretation Centre and your visit is recommended . The place provides information about the area, villages who inhabited it and the archaeological tasks that have studied and studied the subject. The truth is that la Cave of the Hands is part of a bigger story : In the Pinturas river basin there are several archaeological sites on both banks.
Among other issues, the Centre it is possible to know more about techniques of rock art . A curiosity about how the villages left the imprint on their hands is that they were not painted on the rock. The ancient inhabitants leaned their palm on the roof or walls of the cave and then covered it with paint. This technique is given the name of stencil, and somehow it is inevitable to relate it to the current stencil technique . Some 829 stenciled hands have been calculated in the cave, in some cases overlapping. They are mostly left-handed negatives of both sexes; adults, young people and young children.
The cave is hard to reach. This is important to take into account, you have to have a good physical condition because it is necessary to walk steep paths with loose earth and stone.
The Cueva de las Manos was occupied by hunter gatherers more than 9,000 years ago. The images allow you to observe elements related to your daily life. In addition to the hands, there are cave paintings depicting different hunting scenes , animal motifs and some abstract figures.
The images of the Cueva de las Manos take our breath away, opening almost a window in time that allows us to glimpse other times and villages of many years ago . Guanacos and shocks are easily identified among the animals, and there are hunting scenes for these animals. It is believed that geometric motifs symbolically represent the deities of these peoples.
They are recognized, from the paintings and archaeological findings , three different periods in the life of these communities . According to Carlos J. Gradin, who devoted much of his life to studying the site, in their first moments the hunters of the Cañadón del río Pinturas made mostly guanacos hunting scenes with very dynamic human figures .
Between 7000 and 3300 years a second occupation was recognized behind. The paintings associated with these moments are made up of the negative hands in red, violet red, black, white, ochre and a few in green. Also spread the negative with choiques or guanaco legs.
3000 years ago, instead, the art seems to have become more schematic, including animal motifs, with more rustic guanacos, lizards, stylized human silhouettes, and abstract motifs composed of circles, circles surrounded by dots, straight, angular and pointed lines.
The cave of the hands was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO . In 1997 the National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought (INAPL) raised the proposal for this site to integrate the World Heritage List, which was approved by the international body.
To be included in the World Heritage list, it is considered that a site has “exceptional universal value ”. UNESCO declared the importance of Cueva de las Manos as a” pictorial ensemble unique in the world ” for its antiquity and continuity over time, the beauty and state of conservation of the paintings, the sets of negatives of the hands and hunting scenes and the stage surrounding the site.
Finally, we want to leave you some tips that the site of the Cueva de las Manos , administered by INAPL, recommends that visitors:
We recommend you visit the site for more information.
The Cueva de las Manos is open every day of the year and it really deserves the visit.
Publication Date: 27/06/2020
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