Temisas, 35270 Agüimes, Las Palmas.
GC-1 exit 23, towards Cruce Arinaga GC-100, at Agüimes turn left on GC-551, then right on GC-550 to Temisas.
Cuevas del Gigante: From Temisas GC-550 towards Santa Lucía de Tirajana, at the pass turn left to the observatory. Park the car at the first hairpin bend and follow the gravel trail straight ahead for 200 m/5 minutes.
Cuevas de La Audiencia: From Temisas GC-550 towards Agüimes, after the bend into the barraco there is a gravel path on the left. Follow the path around the hill 700 m/10 minutes.
|Classification:||Cellar Caves With a View|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
Pedro Henríquez, Jacob Morales, Paloma Vidal Matutano, Jonathan Santana, Amelia Rodríguez (2019):
Arqueoentomología y arqueobotánica de los espacios de almacenamiento a largo plazo: el granero de Risco Pintado, Temisas (Gran Canaria)
Trabajos de Prehistoria. 76. 120-137. DOI researchgate
|Address:||Oficina de Información Turística de Agüimes, Plaza de San Antón, 35260 Agüimes, Gran Canaria, Tel: +34-928-78-99-80 ext. 693-694. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1933||construction of the Temisas highway separates the cave in two parts.|
|1943||La Audiencia excavated by the Provincial Commissioner of Archaeological Excavations Sebastián Jiménez Sánchez.|
|1951||La Audiencia excavated by the Provincial Commissioner of Archaeological Excavations Sebastián Jiménez Sánchez.|
It seems both versions of the name are used, Cuevas del Gigante and Cueva el Gigante, both meaning Giant Cave or Cave of Giants. Actually this cave is not big enough for this name, but it is quite interesting and worth a visit. It starts with the unique location, in a mountain ridge above the village Temisas. The cave is in the first mountain ridge above the coastal plain, so the view is quite breathtaking. Then it is a through-cave, which was created artificially by the Guanche, and it was built as a granary, to store grains and other agricultural goods. The main passage has numerous chambers on both sides.
Originally, the cave had only one entrance, which you should avoid as it is dangerous. More recently, another entrance has been created which leads directly to two chambers full of granaries. Both chambers have a large opening in the rock wall to the sea, which gives an exceptional view of the surrounding landscape and the sea.
And these are not the only such caves in the vicinity. On the other side of the valley there are more, generally called the Cuevas de La Audiencia (La Audiencia Caves). But they have other names and so there are some confusions. They may be called La Audiencia, Cuevas de Temisas, Cuevas del Pósito, Cuevas del Majar, Cueva Del Majar Temisas, Granero de Risco Pintado, or Granero de Temisas. This last two are actually the most appropriate names, as archaeological research has determined that it is a collective store for barley and other agricultural products, also called an agadir. However, the commonly used name, especially in tourist brochures, seems to be Cuevas de La Audiencia.
The area around Temisas is almost like an oasis in the semi-arid southern part of Gran Canaria. The ravine had some water, at least during winter, and the Guanche created terraces to grow grain by utilising the little rain as good as possible. The caves are located in the two mountain ridges on the right and the left side of the valley. The slopes around both caves are full of ancient terraces, which can be easily seen on Google Earth. The grains were carried uphill and stored in the granaries for two reasons, they were safe from possible floods in the barranco, and they were safe from rodents and mould. That's why they needed soft tuff or tufa, a kind of rock which is very porous and thus rather soft. This allowed them to dig the cave with their stone age tools, a flint or obsidian pick was much harder than tufa. And the porous rock kept a constant temperature and humidity inside, which was neither too dry, nor too humid. The climate was ideal, similar to a modern air-conditioned warehouse. And finally the chambers were closed with a lid to keep rodents outside. This lid was either a wooden plank or a flat stone, which fit the opening as good as possible. It was then fixed with a mortar which was made from water and ash, the exact composition has not yet been determined. But the result was a very safe storage for the essential food supplies.
Recent archaeological research revealed that the stored goods were mostly cereals (barley and wheat), legumes (broad beans and lentils) and fruits (figs). But other gathered indigenous plants were also found. The main storage pests were insects, grain weevil and sawtoothed grain beetle. We guess the eggs or larvae were already in the goods when they were stored. To use a great number of small caves for storage is a good strategy, as it keeps infections restricted on a small part of the granary. They also used a number of natural insecticides like laurel and lentisk.
We guess the location so high above the valley is simply because this was the closest location where the soft tufa was found. But there are also theories that they were deliberately placed in remote and easily defensible locations to protect the food from thieves. If this were other Guanche tribes, outlaws, or pirates which frequently approached the islands in search of slaves, furs or grains, is actually not known. Unfortunately, there are neither written records nor archaeological evidence, only legends. In any case, the narrow and dangerous access made the caves easy to defend, probably by a single man.