The Cave of Risco Caido in Artenara in Gran Canaria has been widely reported as a unique site of aboriginal astronomy from pre-Hispanic times. However, it seems that this UNESCO World Heritage Site is replicated in another cave discovered in Telde in Gran Canaria.
This week, the Government of Gran Canaria held a meeting to provide findings of the archaeological investigations that have been taking place in the Cave of Tara in Telde. It is reported that this is an artificially created cavern in volcanic rock that was used for a long time as a stable for cows, but also that some evidence points to this also being the ancient hermitage of the statue of the Virgin of Candelaria.
Just like in the Cave of Risco Caido in Artenara in the centre of Gran Canaria, the rays of the dawn sun shine through an open skylight within the cave, and projects figures on its walls throughout the year in the Cave of Tara. Its most spectacular effects can be seen during the equinoxes of 20 or 21 March and 22 or 23 September each year. During these days, a sunbeam crosses the gallery of the cave a few metres above the ground, and illuminates the interior of the cave completely.
The Cave of Tara shares many characteristics with the Cave of Risco Caido, but archaeologists now believe that it is older than Risco Caido. These conclusions are based on the fact that the light produced in the interior of the Cave of Tara is not so sophisticated as that seen in the Cave of Risco Caido in Artenara, and suggests that pre-Hispanic society had a strong knowledge of astronomy and calendars, which they used to refine and improve on the discoveries they made at the Cave of Tara.
Julio Cuenca, the archaeologist who discovered both of the secrets of these two caves said, “This Cave of Tara is the missing piece to be able to interpret well what happens in the astronomical images of Risco Caido, which belonged to the pre-Hispanic people of Galdar. It was logical that in the other kingdom in which the island was divided, Telde, there would have been a religious temple and a system of astronomy and a calendar to match the size and importance of that at Risco Caido.”
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