Found by chance two Guanche babies in a cave in Tenerife | Science

Found by chance two Guanche babies in a cave in Tenerife | Science


Sergio Marrero, amateur photographer, and Domingo Garcia, hunter, were looking for a strange type of white spider and entered a cave. But what they found there has led them to rub shoulders with scientific and political authorities of Tenerife: two small semimomified Guanches, in an important ritual burial, the first one found on the Canary Island since 1969. In a volcanic tube south of Tenerife, in Guía de Isora, at 1,390 meters above sea level, there was a small funerary deposit in a crack in the cave, covered by stones.

"There had not been a ritual burial in babies so small, two together and contextualized", celebrates Rodríguez-Maffiotte

Below, these two subjects "placed there in a ritual way", according to Conrado Rodríguez-Maffiotte, director of the Canarian Institute of Bioanthropology, who discovers that they were twins. "They are prior to the sixteenth century, but to be concrete, we have to wait for analysis", explains the researcher, who explains that the signs and the ritual context give little information in that sense "because everything has been same in protohistory. " One of the two small is a baby with a delivery completed and another about 35 weeks, which rules out that they are the result of the same birth, but not their possible relationship, which will try to determine with DNA. Neither are the details of the death of these Guanches known, the name of the town that inhabited the island of Tenerife before the Castilian conquest in the 15th century.

The older of the two is partially mummified, with a wrap over the torso "perfectly sewn" of animal skins, probably goat. "The other does not, but it was," says Rodríguez-Maffiotte, director of the Archaeological Museum of Tenerife. The one with wrapping is much better preserved and has part of the tissues and even part of its internal organs. "There had not been a ritual burial in babies so small, two together and contextualized", celebrates the scientist, since only had two other corpses of that age, but of doubtful origin, in the Museum of Nature and Archeology of Tenerife, where the findings were presented.

The scientist explains that now they will work on the DNA of the children, to try to obtain more information about them and their possible kinship, although he recognizes that it will be difficult. Environmental conditions are also being studied, given the high salinity of the cave, which could favor a "natural or intentional natural mummification" by drying the tissues. Individuals have also been studied from the perspective of forensic anthropology and now it is expected to conduct new surveys in the environment, as they hope to find more ancient human remains, according to Rodríguez-Maffiotte. Ensures that nothing else has been found in that cave, except for some animal remains that "do not say anything".

"It is very important to study our past, they are going to give us a lot of information," said Conde

"It is very important to study our past, very valuable because there are very few of this age, they are going to give us a lot of information," said Amaya Conde, councilor of Museums of the Cabildo de Tenerife, the body on which these works depend. The president of the Cabildo, Carlos Alonso, assured that it is a finding "transcendental from the scientific point of view". They will not be given names or nicknames out of respect, said Conde before the dedicated bones deposited on white sheets.

Coincidentally, this discovery, made last February, could be presented in a scientific context in May, at the 9th International Congress of Mummies. The congress was accompanied by an ambitious exhibition of mummies from all over the world, Athanatos, promoted by the Cabildo de Tenerife itself. All in a demanding context, given that the Museum of Nature and Archeology of Tenerife vindicates the recovery of the guanche mummy It arrived in Madrid in the 18th century and has been housed there for years by the National Archaeological Museum.

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