Cueva de las Manos

Cueva de las Manos (Spanish for Cave of the Hands or Cave of Hands) is a cave and complex of rock art sites in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina, 163 km (101 mi) south of the town of Perito Moreno. It is named for the hundreds of hand paintings stenciled into multiple collages on the rock walls. The art in the cave dates to between 11,000 to 7,000 BC, during the Archaic period of Pre-Columbian South America, or the late Pleistocene to early Holocene geological periods. Several waves of people occupied the cave over time as evidenced by some of the early artwork that has been radiocarbon dated to about 7300 BC. The age of the paintings was calculated from the remains of bone-made pipes used for spraying the paint on the wall of the cave to create the stenciled artwork of the hand collages. The site is considered by some scholars to be the best material evidence of South American early hunter-gatherer groups.

Cueva de las Manos
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hands, at the Cave of the Hands
Official nameCueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas
LocationSanta Cruz, Argentina
CriteriaCultural: (iii)
Inscription1999 (23rd Session)
Area600 ha (1,500 acres)
Buffer zone2,331 ha (5,760 acres)
Coordinates47°09′21″S 70°39′26″W
Location of Cueva de las Manos in Santa Cruz Province
Cueva de las Manos (Argentina)

The site was last inhabited around 700 AD, possibly by ancestors of the Tehuelche people. Argentine surveyor and archaeologist Carlos J. Gradin and his team conducted the most important research on the site in 1964, when they began excavating sites during a 30-year study of cave art in and around Cueva de las Manos. The importance of his discoveries to the country's natural and cultural heritage resulted in the site being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The site is a National Historic Monument and a National Historic Site in Argentina.