The June solstice marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For the aboriginal populations of the island of Gran Canaria, it was one of the key dates on their calendar, since it signified the beginning of the harvesting season. We know this thanks to the chronicles and nearly three decades of archaeoastronomical research in the pre-Hispanic sites of the island.
Cuatro Puertas, in Telde, or Risco Caído, in Artenara, promote visible phenomena during these days, which could be related to fertility and agriculture. It is precisely in the so-called cave number 6 of the latter, in which the phenomenology is most evident. “Sunlight penetrates through an oculus in the upper part of the cave and illuminates a large panel full of pubic triangles”, explains Juan Antonio Belmonte, principal investigator of the Archaeoastronomy group of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias . “That image is going down the wall, with an astronomical symbolism, possibly associated with fertility, which today eludes us.”
But this cave is so unique that, although the sunlight enters it from the spring equinox to the autumn equinox, reaching its maximum at the summer solstice, the other half year, what performs a similar phenomenology is the light that the full moon projects.
This site is a very important reference in the dynamics associated with the astronomical calendar, so much so that it was a determining factor in the declaration of Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria as a World Heritage Site Cultural Landscape by UNESCO, in July of 2019.
This landscape, the privileged sky that surrounds it and the Solstice will be discussed during the broadcast that will be broadcast by the sky-live.tv channel from the Municipality of Tejeda, within the outreach activities of the Energy Efficiency Laboratories (EELabs) project , which coordinates the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), which studies light pollution in Macaronesia so that, in places like the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria, it is possible to preserve the heritage of the starry sky enjoyed by the island’s aboriginal populations.
Text: Alejandra Rueda Moral, journalist for the Interreg EELabs project at the IAC.