LAY OF THE LAND

Nothing new under the sun

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Argentina 35,000 BC                                                 Turkey 2023

  I was struck by the hand prints (above right) on a recent visit to Saklikent Gorge in southern Turkey. Visitors to the gorge have dipped their hands in muddy silt, and pressed them onto the rock face – leaving their mark at this impressive natural feature. Perhaps it was the location, but for some reason i found the hand prints fascinating, and they somehow resonated strongly with the images of ancient hand prints dating back tens of thousands of years. (above left).

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  Saklikent Gorge is a very deep, but narrow ravine, almost 1 mile in length, which is popular with both foreign and Turkish tourists. In winter, water from the mountains above flood the gorge to a depth of several metres, but in summer, the water trickles through in a shallow stream allowing visitors to walk the full length of the ravine.

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  It is unlikely that the gorge would be open to the paying public in Britain, as there is a real danger of falling rocks, and accessing the gorge involves wading knee deep through a fast flowing river of freezing cold water. There are warning signs at the entrance to the gorge but no one takes any notice.

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  If you arrive early (before the coach trips) there are very few people about, and you can have the gorge pretty much to yourself. After wading across the river, it is then a fairly easy hike for a mile or so along the ravine, with the shear rocks faces towering above. As there was no one else about there was a real feeling of exploring somewhere exotic and remote – like venturing into a ancient lost land. This feeling was only added to by seeing the hand prints on the walls of the ravine.

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  In other parts of the world the ancient hand prints are thought to have been made during ritual activity, and were a record of an individuals visit to that particular place. While not having the same ritual significance, the hand prints made by the visitors to Saklikent Gorge also mark an individuals visit to a rather special place. Thousands of year separate the hand prints, but in essence they serve the same purpose, and shows how unique the hand is as a symbol representing humans.

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Image Credit
Public domain image by Mariano Cecowski on Wikimedia Commons showing red hand prints at Cueva de las Manos in Argentina.

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