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- Cayo Largo
Ecological Reserve
- Los Indios
Ecological Reserve
- Punta del Este
Ecological Reserve
- Punta Francés
Natural Park
- Sur de la Isla de la Juventud
Managed Resource Protected Area
- Jungla de Jones
Attractive site for various plant species
Part of the National Network of Botanical Gardens
- Pinar Calizo
Featured Natural Element
- Cayo Campos-Rosario
Natural Wildlife Refuge
Ecological Reserve Punta del Este

It is located at the southeast end of the “Isla de la Juventud”. Getting there from Nueva Gerona by the only ways of communication by land, about 60 kilometers distance approximately.

Departing from Nueva Gerona on the highway towards Santa Fe, skirted the city and continue south on a narrow road just kept, went through the town of Mella to the limit of “La Cienaga de Lanier”, that is a border guarded by Guard troops. We cross to road embankment to Cayo Piedra, turn to the lef as the road going south, that would take us to the village of “Cocodrilo” (the old Jacksonville).

We continue up the embankment and we pass very close to the meteorological station of Punta del Este, getting finally in the east end of “La Puntilla”. The lace extends for three miles to “La Punta del Seboruco”. It is a penetrating inland cliff with 33 square kilometers of extension, where a rich biodiversity exits, which includes the lush vegetation and a rich and diverse terrestrial and marine fauna. From the equity point of view, the place takes its name because there are four caves cave system.

On a calcareous crag, about 200 meters from the beach, it is the “Cave Number One”. It has been also identified as the cave of “Los Indios”, cave of “Humo” and the “Isla”. Inside the cave, there are 213 pictographs, representing almost the third part of the pictographs found throughout the country. This was the reason by which the wise Fernando Ortiz named it as “The Sistine Chapel of Cave Art Caribbean”. It has been declared a National Monument in 1979 by the National Monuments Commission.

The first reference to this cave appears in the book “A través de Cuba” by the French geographer Charles Brenchon published in 1910, but the data were collected in 1903 when he was shipwrecked in that area. In this book, the author gives a brief description of the cave made by Dr. Freeman P. Lane: “50- feet deep cave with leaky vault in fireplace and walls adorned with Indians drawings”.

Fourteen years later, in 1917, the engineer C.N. Ageton, collected in his “bat Guano in Cuba” four maps of caves, one of them belongs because its topographical description, to the so-called “Cueva de la Isla” (surname of the person who lived there at that time), today, it is the “Cave Number One of Punta del Este” (Nuñez Jimenez, 1947).

It is not until 1922, when there achieves the first information of archeological interest, with the visit to the cave of Fernando Ortiz, who in his official report of May 24th, assures the discovery of the remains of a “pre- Columbian temple”, with his consequent “prehistoric” derivations: the identity of a civilization siboney.

Dr. René Herrera Fritot (1938) reproduces, entirely, the first official report of the “Cave Number One” by Fernando Ortiz and that up to the date, was never published.

Archaeological discoveries are the second part of this investigation and that Don Fernando had many disadvantages of continuing, might have conspired in the delay of the report. It is known that in 1929, he revisited the cave and out of this trip, the picture taken in a testimony that would lead the emblem “red flechiforme” the Central Motive. It is the oldest photograph on Cuban Indian rock drawings.

After Oritz visit, Dr. Carlos de la Torre visited the cave who collected many objects that there were scattered on the ground and underground, and the teacher never published his observations, and set forth the findings. Another person who studied in a patient and carefully way the cave was the German DR. Topsius and he never revealed the results of his investigations.

In 1937, Herrera Fritot had made excavations in the area, in order to find evidences of any settlement. He found an abundant archaeological material belonging to sibony trousseau, i.e. lower culture of the West Indies: rustic hammers, flat stones sharp edges, splinters or flakes of silica shell remains of mollusks, shell bowls, spoons, plates beak mortars.

From the expedition “starring” Fritot, there appear various studies and analyzes of provenance and authorship on these ideograms. It creates controversy among specialists and will be faced opinions of the authors, as there a big difference between the archaeological materials found in such crude and primitive clothing and parietal drawings. They will be competing views as Cuban researchers of archeology, as Fernando Rayo Cuardia, Jose Antonio Cosoulluela, Gnama Group and the Speleological Society of Cuba headed by Dr. Antonio Nuñez Jimenes in more recent times.

The verifications made by Dr. Antonio Nuñez appear to show by his research conducted since 1967, Punta del Este is like an observatory, capable of enabling the person standing in the center of the dome appreciate the apparent movement of the Sun from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice, the sun disc moving eastward, arriving on March 22nd, the Spring Equinox, the sun king is located in the middle of the entrance, focusing its light on all pictographic where an apparent, focusing it light an all pictographic where an apparent red phallus penetrates a series of concentric circles.

The Sun continues its race every morning until December the 22nd, Winter Solstice, in that it seems to stop moving illuminated the Central Motive.

The majority of the pictograph of this cave, which adorn the ceilings and walls, consists of 56 concentric circles colored harmonious and unbroken series where the 28 alternate reds and the rest in black.

According to Ortiz, the red circles symbolize the computation of the lunar month. They also represent the day and black at night. There is a large ovoid red arrow superimposed on this pictograph pointing directly to the east.

In the place, we find a skylight which, from inside the cave, stands the transit of the planet Jupiter and the Moon. There is also drawn, what appears to be a snake with glasses. Another symbol that appears to be astronomical is the Cross, whose blades approaching the cardinal points. The symbols of procreation, fertility and life encouraging by the Sun, also can be seen in its entire fascinating atmosphere.

Inside the Central Motive, we can find 13 large black circles which indicate the 13 lunar months. Also, there are two groups of four painted circles; one red circle representing the solar orbit with its equinoxes and solstices, the other black, equivalent to the phases of the lunar orbit.

In other expeditions led by Nuñez Jimenez (1959), there was the discovery of a burial of human bones red with blood and fragments of jaw in front Cave Number Two. Clearly shows the concern of these old men for life after death.

Later, in 1972, archaeologist Jose Manuel Ginarch Delmonte discovered a lot of human remains painted red. No artificial deformations warm skulls, so the Taino Culture is ruled out.

It is very difficult to interpret for sure he meant the Aboriginal Pinero, the issue is not alone in his lack of writing and in the isolation of these men over historical times, the message is captured, but we have not been able to know they meant. Too much remains to be discovered.

Because they constitute an important figure and silent testimony of prehistory and its high natural values, this monument should be tended and preserved as heritage legacy for future generations.

© Isla de la Juventud 2011
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