Cave of Hands. Argentina
Cueva de las Manos is a cave, which is located in the heart of Patagonia, in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina. The name can be translated from Spanish as “The Cave of Hands”. Look at the pictures and you’ll understand why this is so.
In 1941, a monk discovered this unusual cave in the gorge of the river Pinturas (Rio Pinturas). Then, he couldn’t even imagine that this was the oldest and perhaps the most sensational cave rock paintings in the world. Later, in 1964, a professor of archeology Carlos Gradin thanks to his researches glorified the Cave of Hands to the whole world. However, he was concerned about the safety of the original appearance of this discovery. In 1999, the Cueva de las Manos was included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. Thus, it has become one of the most important attractions of Argentina.
Scientists say that these unique cave paintings were made about 13 thousand years ago. They were created using stencils and natural dyes such as white clay, iron oxide and manganese. Thus, the prints acquired the purple, green and blue colors. The remarkable fact is that the same colors were used during the funeral rites. The ritual of creating handprints by the natural colors was a peculiar custom which is considered to be a rite of initiation. This is a series of caves speckled with similar patterns. Their length amounts 160 km.
In general, the drawings are divided into three groups according to their age and style. There are more than 800 prints of human hands in a life-size, as well as images of animals resembling deer and camels, human figures and hunting scenes. It is worth mentioning that only 36 prints are traces of right hands. The cave is not very big in size, so probably people came here to relax after hunting and conducted various rituals.
Since the Cave of Hands is hidden from the human eye in a deep gorge of the river, it’s pretty hard to get here. The cave is situated in a deserted place, without any settlements. You can come here by car on the road RP41 from Bajo Caracoles. Then you have to walk about 2 hours, leaving the car. Special excursions accompanied by the local guides are held for tourists. Also, you can use the information center and cafe. You can walk around the cave along the trail that leads to the observation deck. It will present the unique panorama of the valley of the river and gorge.