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History on the walls

In the canyon of a santacruceño river lies the Cueva de las Manos, whose walls and roof are throbbing the history of ancient peoples.

Santa Cruz

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.

Interpretation Centre

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.

  Ancient peoples  

  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.

  World Heritage Site  

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.  

  Recommendations for the visit  

Finally, we want to leave you some tips that   the site of the Cueva de las Manos   , administered by INAPL, recommends that visitors:

  • That they take   pictures   no flash
  • That, if you go in your own vehicle, check the state of the road to the   Tourism Directorate of Perito Moreno   :
  • Carry food and drink
  • Wearing comfortable footwear for walking

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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We suggest you continue reading the following notes:

La-quillanguería-patagónica Santa Cruz: Quillanguería as Argentine Intangible Cultural Heritage
Argentinos de hace 13.000 años. Argentines from 13,000 years ago.



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