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 activity

Come to San Antonio volcano visitor centre and see La Palma’s “Stonehenge” mark the autumn equinox on Sunday night at 7:30 pm. Stonehenge is a bit of an overstatement, of course, but the modern astronomical marker at the visitor centre works the same way as Stonehenge. As the sun sets at the equinox, the shadow of one stone reaches another. (Different stones make shadows which reach the marker stone at…

September 21, 2013
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Who lived on La Palma before the Spanish?

The people who lived on La Palma before the Spanish arrived in 1493 called the island Benahoare, and themselves Benahorita. (Or according to some people, Benawara and Benawaritas. They insist their spelling is correct. I find this odd, because to me the correct spelling would be the one the people themselves used, only they didn’t write.) The Benahorita probably arrived on La Palma somewhere between 1000 BC and 100 BC,…

May 25, 2013
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Pre-hispanic Ceramics in Mazo

Inside the workshop at El Molino The Benahoaritas (or Auaritas or Awaras) were the people who lived on La Palma before the Spanish invasion. They lived in caves and wore animal skins, but they farmed, and they had ceramics. The older ceramics are simpler, and the newer ones usually more decorated. At El Molino, in Mazo, they make replicas of these ceramics. The business was started by Ramon and Vina,…

October 23, 2012
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