Cueva de Los Manos


Argentina is a mysterious country. As most Southern American countries it was firstly inhabited by Indian tribes. Although most of them moved or died during countless wars with European invaders, these tribes managed to leave a footprint of their existence, which are presented in numerous historical places.

One of the greatest examples of such places is Cueva de los Manos (A cave of hands). It is situated in the heart of Patagonia, in a picturesque Santa-Cruz province. Although, it is not the only one cave that has rock paintings, the ones in Cueva de los Manos are surely the most impressive.

The cave was found by a professor in archeology Carlos Gradin when he was exploring Pin Tura Lake. The cave is located deep in the Pin Tura’s canyon. Archeologists didn’t want to annunciate about his found for quite a long time as he was afraid of jams of tourists who would come to Cueva. Luckily, Hand’s Cave was saved by UNESCO, which added to its site list of World heritage.

According to excavation works this site was occupied in 700 B.C. by one of the Indian tribe – Tehuelche. The cave paintings are mostly negative painted, which assumes that most of them were made with a left hand. There are many theories of its appearance in the cave. One of the most popular is that it was a so-called consecration ritual. As hand paintings were done with a left hand it let us think that the right one was used to paint them out. One more impo0rtant thing that was found by scientists is that most of the paintings were made by boys at the approximate age of 10-13 years, which confirms the theory.

Apart from hand paintings there are also paintings of animals like guanacos, felines and rheas. Most of these cave paintings are accompanied by human pictures, zigzag patterns, sun images and other geometric shapes. The ceilings also have some interesting paintings that are represented in red dots, which are said to be made by hunting bolas, thrown up to the ceilings.

It is important to mention that paintings are not the only attraction of the place as Cueva de los Manos is situated in a very picturesque place. An isolated place has 2 large canyons that have no road between them. The best way to reach these caves is to use Ruta 40 (Rout 40) –the longest road that goes through entire Argentina. It will take you 3 km to get to the cave from the Route 40 but you should be accompanied by a local in order not to get lost.
 Tourists can order a tour accompanied by a guide which can be ordered in most tourist agencies. There is also a large informational center and a café located on the territory.

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