Las Cuevas (The Caves)
So Friday we had a field trip to look at two different caves - Cueva del Castillo and the Museo de Altamira.
First was the Cueva del Castillo (or Castillo Cave for you non-Spanish types). It was pretty cool, although alas, we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside so I can't show you. They didn't have a gift shop either, so I can't even show you other people's photos, although one of the girls took some anyway and she's supposed to send them to me. We'll see if they came out or not.
Anyway, Cueva del Castillo was this really big cave that had these paintings in them that were roughly 18,000 years old. We learned about them in our art/culture class, so it was cool to get to physically see what was talked about. There were three types of Paleolithic drawings: animals, normally ones that they ate (bison and dear), hands in positive and negative, and abstract designs, which could have been a source of communication but we really have no idea what they mean. This cave had 50 hands, all in negative (where the paint is around the hand; positive is where they dip their hand in paint and put it on the wall), and 45 of them are left hands, they think because the people were probably mostly right handed. There were also some cool bison and horses, most of which I wouldn't have been able to see without her point out where the heads and everything were, but they are pretty good.
Then we went to Museo de Altamira (Altamira Museum). Altamira was discovered in 1879 and is one of the big Spanish discoveries. Unfortunately, the cave was closed to the public in the 1970s because the increased temperatures and changes in humidity from so many people being in the cave was damaging the paintings, and then it was reopened in 1982 to a limited number of people. They built a replica in 2001 and that's what we went to. I don't know if the real cave is still open or not. Anyway, so we got to go on the tour of the replica, which was disappointing. One, we weren't allowed to take pictures, even without a flash, which made no sense. I understand the other cave since it could damage things, but this was a replica. I think they just wanted you to have to pay money to buy pictures at the gift shop. The "cave" looked nothing like a real cave - the replica was only on the ceiling on we were on a sidewalk. One part had a hologram of the "ancient people," which seemed really out of place. I was disappointed, especially after the last cave with was cool in just being a really big, cool looking cave, and then even more spiffy with really old paintings. This one felt completely different.
The museum part was pretty cool though, and that's where the pictures I do have came from. The really great part of Altamira was we participated in a workshop where they showed us, somewhat, how they made their spears. The guy broke off flint from a piece of rock and showed us how sharp it was by cutting my friend's hair. He also showed us how to make the rope out of tendon, which was really strong and would have taken forever to do. Then we got to throw replica spears with replica atlatls! I don't remember what he called the atlatl in Spanish, but we got to use them to throw our spears at a deer target. (Atlatls are small wooden things that you hold and hook into the end of the spear and it lets you throw it with a lot more velocity. It's the thing in my hand in the picture). It was a lot of fun - I missed the deer completely, but I was getting it the distance, I just can't aim.
So that was the field trip. The last thing we did was go through the fake cave, so it ended on a crappy note, but the rest was fun.
Until next time - same bat time, same bat place! (Hee hee..I know, I need help). :)