Rock Art

One of the Awara rock carvings at El Verde, El PAso, La Palma island
One of the Awara rock carvings at El Verde




I’ve been having fun hunting up the local rock art with an archeologist from Northumbria. There’s lots of it, but while the rock art from the North Pennines is about 5,000 – 3,000 years old, the Palmeran art is much newer at 1,200 – 500 years old.

We went to El Verde near El Paso cemetery, where most of the carvings line up with midsummer sunset or midwinter sunset (well, they probably used to line up with midwinter sunset before the cemetery wall got in the way). The one at the top of the post seems to point to a mountain called Bejenado, and I hear the peak of Bejenado has lots of carvings too. I must get fitter so I can go and look!

Then we went to a nearby site called La Fajana – I hadn’t realised before just how close they are.

An Awara carving hidden by an almond tree at La Fajana, El Paso, La Palma island
An Awara carving hidden by an almond tree at La Fajana

Then we went to La Zarza and La Zarzita deep in the laurel forest of Garafía. It rained, but we didn’t mind much because that made the carvings much clearer. Unfortunately I discovered that my waterproof wasn’t waterproof any more (when did that happen) and I got soaked. Aren’t car heaters the greatest?

A wet, spiral rock carving at La Zarzita, Garafia, La Palma island
A wet rock carving at La Zarzita

The silvery thing behind the cloud at bottom right is Gran Telescopio Canarias. That's the moon at top right. Garafia, La Palma Island
The silvery thing behind the cloud at bottom right is Gran Telescopio Canarias. That’s the moon at top right.

And finally we went up to the Roque.

Wet jumper + 9ºC + stiff breeze = very cold indeed. Luckily I had a hoodie, and my friend loaned me a blouse to go under it. She’s slimmer than I am, so I couldn’t do it up, but it helped keep me warm, and we walked fast. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the site fast enough and we had to yomp back to the car before sunset. But we did get to enjoy spooky golden-salmon sunset-light filtered through the clouds. Since my friends hadn’t seen the telescopes before, the whole thing looked surreal to them.

And finally we drove down in the dark. It made for a very long day, but well worth it.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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