The caves of Punta del Este, a trace of pre-Colombian history in Cuba

The caves of Punta del Este, a trace of pre-Colombian history in Cuba

Heritage & Traditions

By Sandra Portilla

The Caves of Punta del Este, located on the Isle of Youth, in southern Cuba, form a group that is well known for the cave paintings that have been found on its walls, left there by the aborigines in pre-Colombian times.

Some were discovered in the 20th century and today it is a very important archaeological site in the Caribbean. This site has an area of 33 square kilometers with a rich biodiversity, in which the exuberant vegetation and diverse terrestrial and marine fauna stand out.

From the heritage point of view, this place is reknowned for the presence of a cave system of four caves, where there is a No. 1 in which 213 pictographs are observed, representing almost a third of those found throughout the country.

The study of the pictographs discovered in the caverns of southern Pinero shows that the case of the Isle of Youth is very unique. It is a true cosmogony that has its most complete graphic, plastic and abstract expression in Punta del Este, as a challenge of those which, without having writing, went ahead in time and captured their philosophy on the walls.

Through concentric circles and other associated symbols, almost totally incomprehensible today, they constitute a pictorial motif spread throughout the planet. It is the repetition ad nauseam of that symbol, even used with imagination when painting even those exceptional figures that acquire certain distant configurations of the circle itself.

In the southern plain, the aforementioned motifs represent more than 90% of what the aborigine drew and, in addition, red and black alternate in various combinations, together or separately.

The detailed description of the artistic testimonies left by the aborigines who inhabited this region is not intended, but it is pretended that this site, witness of ancestral cultures, be known for the knowledge of future generations.