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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.

Tenerife pyramids

One of the Camino de La Suerte pyramids

One of the Camino de La Suerte pyramids

Guanche pintadera

Guanche pintadera

La Suerte pyramid and bananas

La Suerte pyramid and bananas

Santo Domingo pyramid

Santo Domingo pyramid

Santa Barbara main pyramid

Santa Barbara main pyramid


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

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.

Dragon Tree

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.

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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?


Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on January 21, 2018:

Thank you for commenting and I hope you found my article interesting!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on January 21, 2018:

Thank you for your article, it is the first time for me to hear about these pyramids.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on November 15, 2011:

The only records of the Guanches are from the Spanish chroniclers. There is no mention of pyramids as such that I know of but they do talk about stone temples. I don't have any of these chronicles though and couldn't read them without difficulty if I did. I can say though that the academics think that the Guanches were descended from the Berbers and the Berbers made pyramid style tombs so my argument would be, if they can do that in North Africa why not here?

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on November 15, 2011:

Are there not some records from the early days, just after the spanish conquest, that might cast some light on these pyramids? There were a lot of records left after the conquest of Mexico and Peru. Why not Tenerife?

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on October 28, 2011:

Thanks for posting, Ben! I hope you can find those extra dollars to get here!

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on October 27, 2011:

I mainly read this because I was trying to figure out where you are from Bard of Ely so now I know. There is an Ely in Minnesota also but sans pyramids. Great walk through, much adieu about tetrahedrons in the landscape! I am all for it and the potential cultures borne them. You really are in a mysterious, balmy elbow of the world, love it, I should like to visit if only I could find a few extra dollars around here, I'll check the couch cushions...

Well done


Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on October 22, 2011:

Thank you for commenting! Amazingly many people come to this island and never find out anything about these pyramids too!

newday98033 on October 21, 2011:

I had never heard of these pyramids. Thank you very much for the article. It has me thinking about what that shape means.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on October 20, 2011:

I agree with your thoughts on the matter! Thanks for posting!

Floyd Wills on October 20, 2011:

Thanks for posting this. Me and my wife visited the Tenerife pyramids over five years ago. After seeing the pyramids firsthand, I find it hard to believe that farmers built them to get rid of volcanic rock. I believe there is a link that connects these pyramids with those found in North and South America. It's interesting to me that the Guanches practiced mummification, so did some of the peoples in North and South America. Step pyramids and mummification seem to be the common connection between these cultures.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on August 26, 2011:

Thanks for commenting, Lisa!

lisadpreston from Columbus, Ohio on August 25, 2011:

Very interesting and informative hub. I love the pictures. Funny how I used to think pyramids were only in Egypt but they are being discovered everywhere. I always enjoy JazzRoc's scientific explanations as well. Great read and I would love to visit this awesome place someday.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on August 11, 2011:

Sounds a great idea! Thanks for posting and tweeting this hub!

amsall from Saint-Louis, Senegal on August 11, 2011:

Awesome hub! I live in Saint-Louis (Northern Senegal), and that is almost 'next-door' and I run a Tour Operator business. Maybe I should include Tenerife in my Packages :-)

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on July 05, 2011:

Yes there are pyramids in very many countries!

Infinite712 on July 04, 2011:

Very interesting, another place that has pyramids is China.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on April 24, 2011:

Thank you for posting!

donnakays on April 24, 2011:

Thanks for a wonderful hub. Now I have another placee to add to my bucket list.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on February 12, 2011:

There are many other options including Sicily and Mauritius! Thanks for posting!

swedal from Colorado on February 12, 2011:

Hey Steve, I never realized that Tenerife had pyramids. They have always fascinated me though I have not had a chance to see any in person. Always wanted to go to Egypt or Mexico in order to take them in, but it is nice to know there is another option too.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on December 19, 2010:

Thank you, The Phoenix, and I have called myself the "Indiana Jones of Tenerife" in an interview seeing as I have found myself to be the only person involved in a quest to investigate ALL the pyramids here, although I have been joined by others since I began including author Philip Coppens.

phoenix482010 from Cobourg Ontario Canada on December 18, 2010:

I,ve been interested in pyramids since I was a kid , Bard of ely has got my interest going again and like him I now have time to research these great mysteries of the world , he is the Indiana Jones of the future if I may say so, Iam so glad to have him on here with us fellow hubbers , Keep up the good work , my hats off to you sir.. The Phoenix

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on December 18, 2010:

Thanks for posting and agreeing with my opinions on this, The Phoenix!

phoenix482010 from Cobourg Ontario Canada on December 17, 2010:

Hi there very interesting views on who was there that built or made those pyramids, I think Alex has his head in the sand,Iagree with you on your idea that the Guanches were well aware of the pyramid and triangle geometric shapes and used it in a pintadera as shown in your photo,s also done some reading and yes the academics have said that the Guanches were descended from the Berbers....Where does Alex get his facts from... I myself would love to visit the Canary Islands some day... Did not know there were pyramids on the island ,thanks for the insight ..The Phoenix...

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on September 30, 2010:

The Guanches built tumuli it is accepted eg Túmulo de La Guancha in Gran Canaria. There are pyramids on La Palma as well as Tenerife.

The other pyramids on Tenerife are just as big as the Güímar ones. A point I have been making is why are they ignored? Could it be the reason is that it would be very difficult to explain why they were built too and who by? That the Guanches had a stronghold in the Icod area is accepted so it seems likely that they would build pyramids in places they were based (if they did indeed build these constructions), and San Marcos and Santa Bárbara are both just outside Icod. There were more in Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava and no doubt many others that have vanished under roads, buildings and development.

Just outside Guía de Isora is what looks like a complex of mounds that reminded me of tumuli in the UK when I first saw them. They are ignored too.

The level of technology exhibited in pottery etc has little to do with the ability of building large and evolved constructions as can be seen in the UK and elsewhere eg Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and Avebury.

That Spanish landowners/farmers in many places on Tenerife spent a lot of time and energy building pyramid style constructions to get rid of rocks seems more far-fetched than the Guanche builders theory to me. A pile of rocks is a pile of rocks. It doesn't have stepped sides and a flat top and it isn't filled with earth.

Similar constructions exist on Sicily and Mauritius. Are they piles of stones left by farmers too?

Alex Bramwell from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain on September 30, 2010:

There are pintaderas on every island but only pyramids on Tenerife. I haven't inspected any pyramids outisde the park but have seen old photos of the site prior to restoration, which was extensive to say the least.

It just seems a bit far fetched that the guanches should buld large scale constructions and nothing else at all of note. Their technology was primitive and small populations on islands tend to lose technology. See the history of the Tasmanian aboriginals for a relevant example:

It is far more likely that the pyramids were built post Spanish colonisation: Occam's razor and all that!

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on September 30, 2010:

I disagree with you, Alex, but thanks for posting! As I have pointed out the Guanches were well aware of the pyramid and triangle geometric shape and used it in a pintadera as shown in the photos here, also it is accepted that the Berbers made pyramid-style burial tombs so why not here if, as the academics say the Guanches were descended from the Berbers? Have you personally examined the pyramids on Tenerife, and I mean the other ones on the other side of the island as well, to have come to your conclusion? Not one single person I have shown the pyramids near San Marcos and those in Santa Bárbara have said yes, it is obvious they are piles of stones that farmers put there but on the contrary have been very impressed with the constructions!

Alex Bramwell from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain on September 30, 2010:

It is very od that the pottery on Tenerife is simple slipware but that these giant pyramids also appear on the island. It makes no sense that people who didn't advance beyond the most rudimentary pottery built astronomically alligned pyramids. It is like suggesting that the neaderthals made fridges.

There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that the Guimar pyramids were built by the guanches or were even around 100 years ago. The owners of the park are making a huge amount of money out of a fabricated story.

The pyramids might just be piles of rocks built up by farmers to remove stones from their fields. Those "corner stones" that are now in place; ask the park where they were found! I bet they go a funny color!

blah blah blah on September 02, 2010:

Look into the distribution of psychedelic cacti.

Look at the distribution of plant species.

Where is what.

Perhaps such will shed light on the issue of the suppressed history of human migrations in the past.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on June 21, 2010:

The main mysteries are who made them, why are the ones on the north-west side of the island ignored and why do the academics deny that they could have been made by the Guanches? I am currently investigating yet another pyramid here that I have only recently found out about and that was from another writer. It is in a remote part of the island and again ignored.

adorababy from Syracuse, NY on June 20, 2010:

Thank you for sharing the information about the "mystery". I knew that the Tenerife pyramids were a tourist attraction but I never thought there was much mystery in them. I guess this is sort of package deals when it comes to pyramids. There is always going to be mystery surrounded in them.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on March 12, 2010:

Thank you, Jill! I hope you can!

jill of alltrades from Philippines on March 11, 2010:

Wow, this is so interesting! I love exploring mysterious sites. I wish I could visit one day.

Thank you very much for sharing.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on February 13, 2010:

Thank you for your feedback, Ghost Whisper and David!

David Doyle on February 13, 2010:

Hi i have a theory re, the Guanches, I believe they were the decedants of the grooved ware peoples of western europe their artefacts are very similar to those found around newgrange and other neolithic sites. I strongly believe there is a connection which merits investigation.

JG the IGNITER from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals on January 16, 2010:

I get busy reading so many hubs,work, never have enough time to explore everyones writings..especially yours. These pyramids are quite interesting but not in a good way to me at times. I do wonder about what is behind them. Reading this just jogged my memory of something in Las Vegas.

The night before the Presidential inaguration, the PYRAMID in Las Vegas-Luxor- did not give out the 'normal' light that usually illuminates from the top of the pyramid-that night it was RED! The light was changed but only for that evening. Someone else had noticed it and brought it up to me. I was glad that I was not the only one to recognize and question it.

I searched for the reasons why but found nothing. Seemingly, it went unnoticed to many...but not all.

Interesting! Thanks for the great Hub read!

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on September 11, 2009:

It's only the Güímar ones that get all the publicity! Well, it was until I started going on about the others! lol

kephrira from Birmingham on September 11, 2009:

nice pics. I've been to Tenerife and never heard anything about them, if I go back I'll definitely take a look.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on September 11, 2009:

I think you are right, Madiera!

madiera on September 11, 2009:

nice work Ely. Would land owners go to so much effort just for the purpose of clearing rocks? I think the "Guanche pintadera" shows that the Guanche's were involved.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 25, 2009:

Thanks for your comments, Kosmo, Jerilee and Cindyvine!

Kosmo there are pyramids all over the world as my friends Philip Coppens and Sam Osmanagic are pointing out in their lectures. Sam is world famous now for the Bosnian pyramids that he talks about.

There are some very similar constructions in Sicily that are like the Tenerife ones. The world of academia is suspiciously silent about all these "other" pyramids.

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on May 25, 2009:

Ok, Tenerife is now on my list of places to go!

Jerilee Wei from United States on May 25, 2009:

I too had no clue on this. I expect to visit there sometime in the next couple of years, and reading about these pyramids just makes my list of places to see even longer, but so much sweeter.

Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on May 25, 2009:

Bard of Ely, I had no idea there were pyramids anywhere in the Canary Islands, and I've been studying archaeology/ancient history for over 30 years! Of course, pyramids of some sort or another - the only true ones are in Egypt - all found over the world. Too bad developers have removed many of them. Keep up the interesting work. Later!

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 06, 2009:

Thank you for enjoying my hub, caredy!

caredy on May 05, 2009:

hello elly,

i'm so happy reading and browsing your hubs, it's just like i tour around the world though i'm just here in the Philippines. And it would never be pssibble for me to come to that place. At least i had see already to hub. And i am more than happy already. Thank for that.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on April 29, 2009:

Thanks for posting your feedback, Mack!

mack bettis on April 29, 2009:

as amazing and full of universal fascination as any and all pyramids all over the world - -for those who say there were no commonalities and links and sharing of knowledge and abilities - - they are the ones who have ignored and are blind to the great stoe works from Peru to Egypt, to all over S. Mexico, to Cambodia, to Thailand and even the submerged liknesses around the world.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on March 12, 2009:

I would agree! It is, and if you have a look I have plenty more hubs with photos of Tenerife. There are so many different types of countryside here and different weather going on often at the same time - it is possible to go from snow to rain and cloud to hot sunshine in an hour's drive! Today we had a calima Saharan dust storm all over the island that makes it hotter and makes the visibiity like in a fog but a dry one!

Here's a bus ride:

laringo from From Berkeley, California. on March 12, 2009:

I would be so lucky to be able to visit this beautiful region. The pictures you've presented make Tenerife without a doubt , A wonder of the World.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on March 12, 2009:

Thank you for reading and posting, Peggy, and I hope you do get the chance to see this island some day!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 12, 2009:

Very interesting hub and informative comments as well. It would be wonderful to see the sights you are writing about in person some day. In the meantime, I can become better informed about these places because of your writing. Thanks!

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on February 21, 2009:

Thank you for your complimentary comments, MamaDragonfly!

Shannon from New York on February 20, 2009:

Excellent Hub! Beautiful and mysterious pics! Thanks for the visuals!

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on February 02, 2009:

You are welcome, Britney! Thanks for posting!

britneydavidson from united kingdom on February 01, 2009:

really great hub.images are very nice.thanx for sharing....

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on August 13, 2008:

Thank you for the compliments, Mellowmuppet!

Mellowmuppet on August 13, 2008:

Nice hub, Please contact me regarding my archaeology website ^.^, Would love to have some of your posts up there ^.^

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on August 02, 2008:

Thank you, sixtyorso! Yes, there are pyramids all over the world, which suggests strongly a shared culture in the distant past!

Clive Fagan from South Africa on August 02, 2008:

Your hubs on Teneriffe are great. I found this hub fascinating and that there is yet another pyramid site. I believe that there is a relationship between pyramids around the world relative to star and planet positions and some work has been done recently taking into account continental drift. I can't recall the name of the book but it was fascinating and your info just added to this. Thank you for sharing with us.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on August 02, 2008:

Thank you and I hope you can make your dream a reality!

CarpetDiem from Southern California on August 02, 2008:

Hey Steve, awesome hub. Confirms I made a good selection in becoming a fan! Also makes me wish I could go to Tenerife on vacation and see these pyramids. Actually, I hope some day I will have the time (and means) to travel the world and see these pyrmids as well as Easter Island and may other places. ~` Steve2

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 23, 2008:

Thank you for your detailed contribution, JazzRoc!

"Without a doubt, these plinths indicate some, but not all, areas on the island where the original ancient settlements existed: and just as in Britain churches are central within villages, these "pyramids" would have been central within settlements."

I would think that Santa Bárbara was one such settlement as was Güímar.

JazzRoc from El Medano, Tenerife, Canary Islands on May 23, 2008:

Hi Bard, I thought I'd pop in and add my tuppennyworth.

The Canary Islands are volcanic in origin and first broke the surface of the sea about eleven million years ago. In geological terms, they are young, but of course they are much older than mankind. Their creation has almost come to a close: the last massive eruption occurred two hundred years ago in the centre of Lanzarote, destroying fifteen villages but so slowly as to cause no loss of life.

They were formed by a magmatic "hotspot" which was slowly travelling westward beneath the Atlantic sea bed, heaving it upward and tearing cracks as it travelled.

Lanzarote and Fuerteventura were "tears" aligned roughly north-south, Gran Canaria appears to be an expanded "pinhole" with even radial cracks, and Tenerife was originally a "Y"-shaped crack through which 84 volcanic events took place.

The Atlantic sea bed is two miles down, and underwater volcanic slopes approach the vertical, so that within a mile of the shoreline you reach the bottom of the ocean.

My point is that the geological evidence does not point to this area as the origin of the demise of Atlantis - it wouldn't have been subsumed under the volcanic creation events in the island chain.

Eruptions in the past fifty thousand (homo sapiens era) years have been sluggish in character, and couldn't have obliterated a civilisation: it could simply have walked away to another part of any of the islands.

And to the "experts'" view that the stones were piled to clear the fields: I don't agree with that. Wherever you look in these islands, you'll see terraces: the steep volcanic slopes have been levelled wherever possible, and to level them you need to move the stones and build them into walls. To do this you will always need ALL the stones, ergo, if they were piled into flat plinths, there must have been a more pressing reason for doing so. This could only have been either ritualistic or practical: these "pyramids" were the "churches" or the "markets" of that era.

Without a doubt, these plinths indicate some, but not all, areas on the island where the original ancient settlements existed: and just as in Britain churches are central within villages, these "pyramids" would have been central within settlements. Unfortunately some pyramids have undoubtedly disappeared in the transitions between successive communities, and would almost certainly have been re-used as walls if nearby Catholic communities began constructing churches.

If you inspect carefully the soil of the pyramids of Guimar hoping to find ANY artefacts of previous civilisation, you'll be disappointed: there are no traces to be found. There are only rough rubble-like stones, but the top surfaces are adequately flat for standing on. And that's nearly all that is there - except for a WONDERFUL garden of native plants which would justify a visit by itself, a small museum demonstrating Heyerdahl's research, and a cool, elegant, shaded and civilized cafeteria and bookshop.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 10, 2008:

I had the Black Alchemist before I moved here! That's great you know Andrew too!

Lou Purplefairy from Southwest UK on May 10, 2008:

I have heard that too. I spoke to him at he Cygnus Day in Glastonbury a couple of years ago and we discussed the likelyhoof of stuff underwater. I have been a huge fan of his since he wrote The Black Alchemist in the '80's. I have a copy of the Cygnus Mystery and there are some interesting theories in that book.

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on May 09, 2008:

Hi Lou! :) I know, Andrew, and was in correspondence with him earlier this year and he knows all about the pyramids here. In fact he told me that the late Thor Heyerdahl had invited him over before he died and unfortunately he hadn't taken him up on his offer and then it was too late. Andrew thinks there may be underwater stuff here too.

Lou Purplefairy from Southwest UK on May 09, 2008:

Wow! I did not know that there were pyramids in tenerfie! But it makes sense, as there are various sites in europe which qualify in status as pyramids, including our very own Silbury Hill in the UK. I would very much like to see the pyramids of Tenerife one day. btw, have you heard of the work that Andrew Collins is doing lately? <a href="">Officia... Andrew Collins Website</a>

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on April 07, 2008:

Well all the pyramids here including the ones that now get publicised due to Thor Heyerdahl's name and Fred Olsen's money would have been forgotten about when you were here. Even now most of them are hardly known about. It's a weird situation. People pay 9€ to go in the Ethnographic Park in Güíimar but the ones in Santa Barbara you can see for free no one bothers with and many people don't even know they exist. People in the resorts down south don't even know a village called Santa Bárbara exists, let alone knowing of any pyramids there!

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on April 07, 2008:

Ive went to Tenerife when I was 4 - but I don't recall the pyramids! I don't remember much so maybe its time for a revisit - interesting hub!

Steve Andrews (author) from Lisbon, Portugal on April 05, 2008:

Hello again, Patty! :) Thank you for posting and I am really glad this info was of interest to you. I would have liked to have met Thor Heyerdahl but sadly he died before I was living here.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 05, 2008:

Excellent information. I read Thor Heyerdahl long ago and will look at a fresh bibliography to see what I've missed. Thanks very much for the information and pictures! I make a study of human migrations and this Hub helps. Thanks Up!

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