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The mysterious pyramids of Tenerife in the Canary Islands
The pyramids of Tenerife
If I give you the word "pyramid" most people will think of Egypt or Mexico perhaps, but these ancient and mysterious buildings are found all over the world in many different countries and locations including Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
The main pyramids of Tenerife are in a town on the east coast called Güímar in the south of the island, where they had been more or less forgotten about until world famous explorer and archaeologist, the late Thor Heyerdahl, heard about them from a newspaper and decided they were authentic step-pyramids like he had seen on his travels in Peru, Mexico and elsewhere. He enlisted the support of Norwegian shipping magnate Fred Olsen, who lives on Tenerife, and the Ethnographic Park and centre was set up and opened in 1998 where the six pyramids stand in Güímar.
Thor Heyerdahl believed that at one time the pyramid-building peoples of the world travelled the seas on rafts and he himself sailed from Morocco to Barbados on a papyrus raft known as Ra II to show this sort of thing could be done. It is also possible that the pyramids had been made by the mysterious Guanches, who once lived on the Canary Islands, although the academics have portrayed these people as living in primitive Stone Age ways.
The mystery of the Guanches
The Guanches, who were invaded and conquered by the Spanish, are believed by many to be descendants of the Berbers from North Africa because they were known to be white-skinned, often with blonde hair and blue eyes. How they arrived on the islands is another mystery because they did not use boats.
Other people who believe in Atlantis have put forward the idea that the Guanches were Atlantean descendants or even actual survivors. James Churchward who had a series of controversial books published in the early 1930s starting with The Lost Continent of Mu produced a map showing clearly that where the Canary Islands are today Atlantis once was.
That the Guanches were familiar with the pyramid shape is shown by designs on artistic seals known as pintaderas that have been found, and are thought to have been used for body painting. The Guanches also used to practice mummification of their dead, which, of course, is a practice the Egyptians also used.
Thor Heyerdahl speculated that the pyramids were astronomically aligned and showed evidence for his theory that the pyramids were used for ceremonies at times of the year such as the summer solstice.
It is accepted by archaeologists that the Guanches lived in and used the area of Güímar and proof of this has been found in caves, however, academics still insist that the pyramids were not made by the Guanches, and have put forward the idea they were constructed by landowners and farmers as a means of getting rid of the volcanic rocks.
So the debate continues over who made the Pyramids of Güimar, or the Chacona Pyramids, as they are also known. Thor Heyerdahl wanted visitors to make up their own minds and so the symbol used at the exhibition of displayed material at the Ethnographic Park of Güímar is the question mark.
Another unexplained mystery lies on the west side in the north of Tenerife, where similar and nonetheless impressive pyramids are to be found on farmland in La Suerte in the village of San Marcos, in Santa Bárbara, in La Mancha and at Santo Domingo, all of which villages are close to Icod de los VInos.
Like Güímar, this area is known to have been a part of the island where the Guanches once lived and Icod de los Vinos is famous for its mighty Drago Milenario, a Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco ) said to be between 1,000 and 3,000 years old and a place where the Guanches once assembled.
In Santa Bárbara there are several pyramids and even a house built next to one. But these pyramids appear to be forgotten and ignored - you will not find any mention of them in guidebooks or anywhere else for that matter.
It is said that the Pyramids of Güímar were once fated for destruction to make way for local development in the area, and it appears that pyramids on the other side of the island may have already gone. Those still standing are what is left of a time when they were being built, but the question is - who by?