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stone barranco tinojay naval museum

Barranco de Tinojay, a "naval museum in stone"
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Barranco de Tinojay, a "naval museum in stone".

The Barranco de Tinojay, located in the municipality of La Oliva, begins with the name of Barranco de Vallebrón on the N. E. slope of Montaña de La Muda, running through the Vallebrón Valley until it reaches the height of the village of La Caldereta. At this point, located north of La Calderetilla, it joins the Barranco del Llano del Palo. From there to its mouth in Boca del Barranco de Tinojay or Playa de los Valdivias, it is called Barranco de Tinojay. It is from the section between Rosa del Alto to Rosa de Tinojay where the engraving stations are located, constituted according to the researchers, by numerous naviform engravings, reticulated and a podomorph, highlighting, according to the author J. M. Amezcua (560: 1995), some 66 inscriptions for being in better condition than the rest.

Rock engravings

The engravings are made on basaltic blocks and loose rocks, located mostly on the left bank of the ravine, being scarcer on its right bank, probably because in this part the lichens prevent them from being clearly visualized. To this natural deterioration is added the one produced by human action when some of these inscriptions were made, on others older destroying, in some cases the strokes of previous engravings.

In view of their concentration and spatial distribution in the territory, the rock engravings of the Barranco de Tinojay have been divided into three stations (see annex II).

Naval representations
The main motif engraved along the Barranco de Tinojay is the representation of ships. The extraordinary uniqueness of the ships, due to both the quantity and variety of the characteristics represented, make the naviform engravings of the Barranco de Tinojay, a cultural reference for the history of the Canary Islands in general and Fuerteventura in particular. In Tinojay you can observe, through the ships engraved on the rocks, the different cultures that sailed with their ships the Atlantic sailing for different reasons around the island.

According to J. M. Amezcua (561-568; 1995) in the Barranco de Tinojay are represented ships from various peoples of antiquity such as Egyptian, Cretan, Greek, Phoenician, Punic, Roman galleys, Nordic or Mediterranean cocas, caravels and rollers, galleons, Barbary jabeques, sloops and faluchos.

These engravings are considered by some researchers as a naval museum in stone, since in the Barranco the evolution of navigation through time is appreciated, both rowing and sailing. Following J.M. Amezcua, ships are located with bogar oars, gobernalle oars, square, trapezoidal, triangular sails, cups, spurs, mainmasts, mesanas, ratchets, etc.

Possible Aboriginal taxpayers
Some of these rock manifestations are estimated by researchers as contemporaneous to the aboriginal era, at least since the first expeditions to the Canary Islands of European ships in search of slaves, orchillas, etc., between a chronological period that covers between the end of the thirteenth century and the end of the fifteenth century. These possible contacts of the aborigines with the European populations and the possibilities of trade that the ships opened, but also, the threat imposed by the slave raids, would be phenomena that we must weigh if they affected enough to induce them to sometimes make these representations, however, we lack any data to establish a cause-effect relationship between them (Gabriel Escribano Cobo, Alfredo Mederos Martín, Domingo Chinea. 45; 1997).

From the sixteenth century, and already in historical times for the island, there was a progressive renewal among the types of ships that most frequently visited our coasts. For this time, researchers have pointed out several hypotheses that could explain the presence of these engravings relating it to maritime traffic in the area such as the possibility of watering in coves, maritime provisioning in periods of poor harvests, the transport of population to the islands, emigration as a symbol of hope for a better life or the threat of pirate attacks.

Source: Government of the Canary Islands
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