Rock Art

A wet, spiral rock carving at La Zarzita, Garafia, La Palma island
November 24, 2015

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,…

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Archaeology at the Roque de los Muchachos

  For centuries, goatherds have brought their flocks to the Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point on the island of La Palma. As the lower pastures dried out in summer, they moved to fresh pastures on higher ground. These days, farmers can drive home for the night, but of course that wasn’t the case 50 years ago, much less 500 years ago. They came up some time in June,…

April 21, 2015
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La Zarza Rock Carvings

One of the best archaeological sites on La Palma is La Zarza and La Zarzita, in Garafía. You have to walk, but it’s a beautiful stroll through woods of heather and bayberry trees. Yes, heather is a tree here – see the top photo. The whole walk takes about an hour, and first bit of the path is the steepest. It’s clearly signposted. You reach La Zarza first. Here there…

August 16, 2014
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Prehistoric Rock Carvings

The people who lived here before the Spanish invasion in 1493 were called Benauaritas. Since they didn’t have writing, not all that much is known about them, and what there is comes from the invaders. Not exactly an unbiased source! Their technology was pretty basic, maybe because the climate in La Palma is kind enough not to encourage things like weaving. They wore skins, lived mostly in caves, herded goats…

April 28, 2014
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Belmaco Cave, the Royal Palace in Mazo

  Before the Spanish invasion, Belmaco Cave was the home of the kings of Mazo. The first rock carvings were found in the 18th century, which was the start of archaeology in the Canary Islands. Today, it’s open to the public. The entrance is on the other side of the road. A little farther inside, there’s a small, two-story building housing various artefacts, like shell spoons and bone punches, and…

October 26, 2013
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Equinox sunrise behind the Roque

Sunrise behind the Roque de Los Muchachos at the equinox
September 24, 2013

  A remarkable number of the archeological sites on La Palma line up with astronomical calendar events: particularly sunrise or sunset at the solstice or equinox, and the rising and setting of the star Canopus. Since Sunday was the equinox, I went with a group of friends to one of these sites to see the sun rise behind the highest point of the island, the Roque de Los Muchachos. It…

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