Category: Archaeology

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

Mogán town council assumes direct management of services on Playa de Mogán

The Mogán Local Council on Friday installed new sun beds and umbrellas on Playa de Mogán, beginning direct management of seasonal services of this popular beach, along with the other six beaches for which it now holds corresponding authorisations: Las Marañuelas, Costa Alegre, Taurito, El Cura, Aquamarina and Patalavaca. Since last summer they have also been in control of direct exploitation of  Puerto Rico and El Perchel beaches.  The majority of these coastal tourism enclaves were managed by private companies who held the concessions, some of which had been in place for decades. 

The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 27-29 January 2023

Tenteniguada Almond Blossom Festival
It’s the last weekend of January and exactly two weeks to go until the 2023 Carnival season starts on Gran Canaria. This weekend will most probably be enjoyed with a drop of wet weather, Sunday being forecast as the rainiest. The southern tourist enclaves look to also see a bit of cloud cover and even a small chance of seeing a few drops of rain. However you look at it, it may be handy to have umbrellas and raincoats around during the days to come. There is even the possibility of some snow on the mountains as we head into next week.

More than half of all Canary Islands properties sold last year were bought by foreigners, more than half of those non-residents

While we still await final figures for the last quarter of 2022, the latest official data from The Canary Islands has shown foreigners are buying more homes in the Canary Islands than ever before. The number of real estate acquisitions by non-residents in the Canary Islands has risen 52% compared to the same period in 2021, and is already 16% higher than the highest ever record set in 2017.

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Mogán and the Government of the Canary Islands discuss Pueblo de Mogán bypass and the planned Taurito tunnel

Minister of Public Works, Transportation and Housing for the Canary Islands Government, Sebastián Franquis, held a meeting on Friday with the serving mayor of Mogán, Onalia Bueno at which the mayor of La Aldea de San Nicolás, Tomás Pérez, also participated. The gathering was to discuss a bypass necessary for Pueblo de Mogán as well as possible alternatives in the long running project to the complete the “Insular Ring” and guarantee greater safety in travelling around the entire coastline areas of the island. Included in these discussions were the proposed coastal GC-500 tunnel project that is to reconnect Playa de Mogán with Taurito, closed due to landslides back in the summer of 2017.

Spanish Treasury claims land ownership confirmation and rights to compensation for the Siam Park project

Loro Parque owners, Christoph and Wolfgang Kiessling want to build Siam Park Gran Canaria
The Spanish Treasury have reportedly demanded the stoppage of the long awaited and controversial Siam Park water park project, with local Spanish language daily La Provincia reporting that this has been caused by the inaction of the insular government, the Cabildo de Gran Canaria.
The Ministry, through the delegation of Economy and Finance in the Canary Islands, have, say sources, since January been requesting that the Gran Canaria Island Water Council clarify State funds that correspond to urban development on the grounds of the El Veril ravine, between the main GC1 highway and the tourist resort of Playa del Inglés, where it claims shared ownership of several plots with the Loro Parque Group, but they have reportedly not received any answers.
In the absence of a response from the Island Water Council, which is an agency of the governing Cabildo, who received an official letter dated January 8, 2019 urging clarification on the interests of the State and the use of public land by Loro Parque Group, the Spanish Hacienda has now directly addressed the Town Hall of San Bartolomé de Tirajana (SBT).

Editor’s comment:Ironically it was, in the end, the delays and refusals of the SBT town council in failing to issue the final works licences that once again paralysed this project at the beginning of this year, while they sought an extra €2m, that had not originally been planned for, which the Loro Parque Group refused to pay, following several difficult years of protracted delays while spurious legal claims and games of blame were thrown around and then out of the courts and then a series of very public attacks on the Cabildo, and its President, by the now-ousted, then-governing, PPAV party and the local ex-mayor, who had during the delay presided over critical changes in local ordinance which had led to his administration demanding the extra monies from the developer. No pay, no play seemed to become SBT’s position on the project, while pointing the blame elsewhere.

In a new official letter dated October 17, 2019 the State requests that the Southern Consistory, responsible for such developments in the municipality, act to ensure “the management and urban execution be paralyzed in the registration and physical transformation of the affected properties, since these lands are not [owned by a] sole proprietor”, according to the document, to which reporters say they have had access. That is, they say, that although Loro Parque own 174,827 square meters, following its purchase back in 2013 from the aristocratic Del Castillo family, the plots appear to have a double registration in the Land Registry as they are listed also in the name of the Spanish State. A peculiarity indeed which has never previously been at issue.
Sources close the Grupo Loro Parque, operated from Tenerife by the Kiessling Family, have expressed their surprise at this revelation, as this information was, it seems, completely unknown to them previously.  While it was known that State lands were involved, no objections at any stage had been made throughout this lengthy saga running for many years now.
In addition, the ministry has informed the Consistory that they have initiated procedures to demand ownership of the land located within the public hydraulic domain of El Veril, which corresponds to the channels along the Guincho, Buenavista and Cañizo ravines. A maneuver that once again calls into question the possibility of building a theme park and a 300-room hotel in which the company has long planned to invest €60m and to attract a further €40m in investments which would bring jobs, revenues and an expected increase in tourism to the area.
In the spaces the State claims as hydraulic public domain, Loro Parque, at the end of 2017, undertook canalisation works in the ravine, which had been stipulated to be required by the Island Water Council, after having obtained in July of that same year an urban planning license from the SBT Town hall to carry out the works in which the company invested the first €2m so as to expedite and enable the permissions for breaking ground on the planned water park development, and for the use of this space, Grupo Loro Parque has an administrative concession.
In its letter to the Island Water Council, which has thus far gone unanswered, the Treasury have also required that once there has been clarification of which area is public land and which is private, that the State be granted rights over the urban uses generated by those plots in the public domain, that is to say, that the Government now wants to be paid for the use of any publicly owned lands.  Something that has never previously been requested.

Editor’s comment:It remains unclear as to what possible outcomes this new claim might lead to, as much as it may hinder the development it could well end up being a blessing in disguise as local authorities have successively failed to bring the project to fruition.  The influence of the Spanish state may well be expedient to finally resolving the question of this project breaking ground or not.

While this clarification occurs, the Spanish Ministry of Finance has demanded that the Island Water Council appear before the competent public administrations, in this case the Town Council of San Bartolomé de Tirajana and the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, to defend the urban interests of the Spanish State, derived from the incorporation of these public domain lands into the existing El Veril Plan for Mondernisation, Improvement and Increase of Competitiveness. They have also required, as official managers of the public water domain, that the Water Council adhere to the constitution of the State Compensation Board.  This will set the meter for how much the State will expect for any use of public lands affected by the projects, which have been long addled by the associated sagas of unfulfilled announcements, administrative battles, court hearings, inaction and recriminations.
In the second letter, now sent to San Bartolomé de Tirajana, the Ministry of Finance, demands that the Local Municipal Corporation take account of the General State Administration as a holder of part of the plots located in the El Veril Barranco. “In the drafting of the mandatory compensation / reparcelación project; the right to use that corresponds to it, its location, as well as the distribution of charges and benefits, must be included as it is an area of ​​action with several owners,” the official letter says.
Scream if you want to go faster!
This new claim from the Spanish Treasury comes just five years after the Spanish State gave free access to the construction of the new water park, specifically by not submitting any claims or objections to the Kiessling family project, which was processed at the Gran Canaria Island Water Council, despite already knowing they were co-owner of the lands located in El Veril. Having not presented any objections, the agency responsible for hydraulic management on the Island thereby understood in 2014 that the State had cleared the way for the German-born investor, Wolfgang Kiessling, to promote his long awaited water park and a new hotel.
These newly voiced requirements of the Ministry of Finance potentially represent a major blow for the newly inaugurated current quadripartite coalicion local government of San Bartolomé de Tirajana in their stated intentions to expedite the administrative file & finally grant the works license to Loro Parque, by constituting it as one of the strategic investments for the development of the municipality.  The project had already been declared of major strategic importance for the island and for the region.
The Kiesslings themselves, owners of Grupo Loro Parque, have repeatedly shown their fatigue at the paralysis of this major investment on Gran Canaria and their extreme displeasure at the repeated delays to execution of an urban development project that was, they thought, long ago agreed and green lighted.  Construction work of the theme park was originally to be completed two years ago, in 2017, and yet it has not even obtained the construction license to begin work, with €2m already spent and another €2m demanded.
During the administrative process, various public accusations were levied toward the Cabildo de Gran Canaria by the Local Council, with both institutions then blaming each other for stopping this otherwise universally agreed project of great importance for Gran Canaria.
The project began to drift, after all external objections had been overcome in the courts, with the apparent discovery of archaeological remains, namely shellfish remains of little significance, leading to the then PPAV mayor (Marco Aurelio Perez) suddenly pointing fingers at the island government in the press, and then continuing with the construction of a roundabout, for which the Kiesslings had expected the town hall to pay, as originally defined, only to be presented with a €2m demand; Infrastructure that the Prosecutor’s Office validated after the filing of a complaint by an environmental group. The Spanish State has been openly able to participate in as many meetings as necessary to clarify how much money it is owed for the land, over the course of several years, and yet has never done so to date.
Needless to say there will be exasperation on all sides.

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Underwater survey points to 300-year old ship wreck being of possibly British origins

A diver works underwater in El Burrero
The Cabildo de Gran Canaria last week presented the results of their latest underwater archaeological intervention, carried out during January and February in the waters of El Burrero, on the east coast of the island in the municipality of Ingenio, where an historic eighteenth century British ship has lain for almost 300 years just eighty meters from the shore.
The Minister for Culture, Carlos Ruiz, accompanied by the mayor of Ingenio, Juan Diaz, and his councilor for Beaches, Chani Ramos, visited the Club Nautico de El Burrero to see some of the recovered artifacts from this sunken wreck, first discovered in 1962 by the diver Tomás Cruz.
From left to right, José Guillén, Chani Ramos, Juan Díaz, Josué Mora and Carlos Ruiz in El Burrero
This is the fifth campaign to recover items from this wreck, and consisted of a team of three people led by a Sevillian archaeologist specialising in underwater archaeology, Josué Mata Mora, who toghether invested a total of 120 hours underwater in order to delimit the remains and analyse the state of conservation of the timber that had been previously documented in the 2008 campaign.
The Ministry of Culture, Historical Heritage and Museums of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, invested 18,000 euros in the project, seeking to determine with precision the possible date of the shipwreck, using traditional techniques (underwater planimetry) and photogrammetric survey (Photoscan) as well as to understand the function of the vessel, and under which nation’s flag she originally sailed.
The prospecting was carried out at a depth of 3-4 meters, in a sandy and stoney section of the coastal area of ​​El Burrero. According to experts, the proximity of the remains to the coast and the shallow depth at which they were found have had a significant influence on the site. Erosion, pillage and anthropization have been a relentless constant in the history of this shipwreck.
From the first signs, the team of underwater archaeologists were able to determine that we are dealing with a ship of a certain size, with a skeleton construction, probably dating to the mid-eighteenth century. For the time being, the construction system (the use of wooden enclosures, the presence of a double wooden lining, and presence of notable clearings between frames) points to the vessel being possibly of English origins, probably military, taking into account that in the 60s there was an extraction of 15 guns made from cast iron, which were removed without the necessary precautions.
It is believed that she did not even have cargo as she came to get it and then sell it in ports where she anchored such as Funchal or London. These corvettes were light boats of about 30 meters long, but conserved from this there are only 7 linear meters, that we currently know about.
The team noted an abundant presence of flint stones which the team believes was to serve as a ballast for the ship (and not the flints used for firearms of the era, as had been suggested in other interventions).  This allowed them to link the construction of the ship either to the English or European coasts, where this raw material is most abundant (and the purchase and sale of such ballasts were recorded in documents of the time).
“For years the people of El Burrero and the municipality have known that there is a wreck here and there has always been a great concern about the issue, so it has been a wise to investigate and to transfer the information to the record and keep the story” said the mayor of Ingenio, Juan Díaz. “We must continue working and record what is discovered to make it known to the public” added the mayor concluding by thanking the Town Council for the work that is being done.
Carlos Ruiz, Councilor for Culture of the Cabildo, commented that what is being attempted is “to know more about this wreck, to date it, to know its origin, the date of its sinking , and to accumulate more and more information using the more modern and current means to keep it ” He explained that he is waiting for the report to see what the experts advise, since only a week ago they finished and the results are still being analysed, “one of the proposals that we are considering is to locate an information panel as well as to study what future actions can be carried out for conservation, given the impossibility of removing the remains as they could be damaged. ”
Some remains of the wreck sunk in the waters of El Burrero
Ceramics found at the site, have been reduced to just a very few fragments of type known as “salt” (Stoneware), which was started in the Rhineland area (Germany) in the sixteenth century and was later imitated by the workshops of Devon (England) in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.There have also been documented remains of ceramic pipes, widely used in the maritime contexts of the time, with manufacturing marks that could place their manufacture between Holland and England between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Remains of the on-board cutlery have been recovered, such as a pewter ladle with clear remnants of Baroque decoration, possibly used for the service of officers.
In 1741, according to one Captain General Andrés Bonito Pignatelli, two English corsairs from Funchal (Madeira) entered the Gando inlet attempting to capture a Spanish ship called El Canario, which was anchored in the bay undergoing repairs. After the attack was repelled, the corsairs fled to the south. The hypothesis maintained by investigators remains that the Corsair, having suffered great damage and with few survivors left on board, according to the story of the famous writer Viera y Clavijo, was possibly unable to maneuver after fleeing and, in perhaps a desperate state may have ran aground on the rocks and ended up sinking just off the beach at El Burrero.
A spoon located at the bottom of the sea in El Burrero
Once the delimitation of the archaeological site was completed, the operation then turned to the work of covering the remains with sand to help preserve the ship in situ.
Anyone considering going on a little treasure hunt of their own should think twice as the wreck of El Burrero beach is legally included in the archaeological record of the municipality of Ingenio with the registration number 11,032 and that it was the first underwater site of this nature to be excavated in Gran Canaria with an administrative permit.
According to specialists, it has unique characteristics in the Canary Archipelago given that at the moment it is the only documented wreck of modern times with a wooden hull structure remaining. This fact gives it exceptional characteristics, both for the study of naval history and for the dissemination of various insights related to this activity, with trade, ancient transport and underwater cultural heritage in Gran Canaria.

16 pieces of artillery
More than half a century since the wreck’s discovery, and after four archaeological interventions in 1962, 1968, 1994 and 2008, the Cabildo has emphasised once again that the remains of this submerged ship in El Burrero, is one of the most interesting underwater archaeological sites in Gran Canaria, from the historical-scientific point of view as well as the patrimonial heritage of the island.
16 new underwater sites
Of the 132 new enclaves that the Cabildo de Gran Canaria has recently incorporated into the Archaeological Charter of the island, which had not been updated for 14 years, 16 are underwater, which constitutes just over 10 percent of the total and represents a delimited area of ​​819.20 hectares. The aim now is to protect these as some of the most fragile and complex patrimonial heritage assets including underwater remains such as these.
According to the Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, this heritage includes “all traces of human existence that have a cultural, historical or archaeological character, that have been underwater, partially or totally, periodically or continuously so for no less than 100 years. ”
For its part, the Law of Historical Heritage of the Canary Islands defines Canarian archaeological heritage as that composed of immovable and movable assets -for example, wrecks- of a historical nature that can be studied with archaeological methodology, whether or not they have been extracted and if they are on the surface such as in the subsoil or within the territorial sea.

Source: Cabildo de Gran Canaria

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