Published: Пт, Января 27, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Mummies and Mounds in the Canaries

Mummies and Mounds in the Canaries

When my husband Paul and I arrived on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria-part of the Canary Island archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa-our guide greeted us with surprising news: "I know you are intrigued by culture , "I said," and I thought you might be interested in who the original settlers were on our island. They were Berbers, from North Africa. They came by boat 2000 to 2500 years ago. "

Might be interested? The word "obsessed" would be more applicable. I wanted to know everything about the people of the islands: How did they live? What was their culture like? Were they hierarchical or egalitarian? What did they look like? What did they leave behind? My guide grinned and said there were a lot of places.

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According to my guide, there were about 20,000 native people before the Spanish came the occupiers and rulers in the l5th century. The locals resisted, and a bloody five-year war wiped out all but a few thousand of them. Today they are generically called Guanches, although the more specific name Guanarteme is also used on Gran Canaria. During the years when Spain was under the oppressive rule of Francisco Franco (he died in 1975), cultural diversity was Repressed and there was no talk of Guanches. But now many locals I met stated proudly that they identified with the Guanches, certainly had Guanches blood, gave their children Guanches names, and the islands are dotted with monuments, museums, sites and even restaurants dedicated to and dealing with the ancient ones. / P>

Nearly the iconic church of Candelaria-the black virgin is the patron saint of Tenerife and the church is high on most visitors. Lists of things to see-are huge bronze statues of the nine Mencey, who were the Guanches tribal leaders. I think their size is a reflection of the Guanches' stature-as they were probably tall-and also depicted the large place the Guanches now have in the hearts and minds of present-day Canarians.

We were so Interested in the Guanches that we waited for days to check out the historical site that has nothing to do with the Guanches, but is equally intriguing. In Guimar, there are six stone pyramids, with steps and large platforms; The main pyramids are aligned to the solstices. Famed archeologist and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl was fascinated by them, and a museum on the site makes a strong connection between all the pyramids found in the world-from Egypt to Mesoamerica (www.piramidesdeguimar.es).

The Guimar pyramids are very controversial, and some local archeologists think they were made by farmers who were piling up stones from their fields over the last few centuries. Having visited scores of pyramids in Mexico and Central America, I come down on the side of Heyerdahl. Tossing stones that aligned with the solstice? Chucking rocks into formations with platforms and stairs? I think not.

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