Mysterious Sea Bowls in La Palma

June 17, 2021

Cazoletas en el mar

Photographer: Jose F. Arozena

Summary Authors: Jose F. Arozena & Cadan Cummings

These circular or ovoid shaped holes of different sizes and depths are called sea bowls. Mysterious in nature, their origin has been hypothesized to be human made by the ancient inhabitants of the La Palma island- the so-called Awaras- since their creation has not been explained geologically. Several theories for their purpose range from serving a role in regional fishing or livestock farming to representing a part of sacred history for native populations. Located adjacent to the sea which is historically used to wash sheep and other livestock, the sea bowls could have served a role in bathing and deworming cattle in summer months. This evidence is supported by their names on marine maps stemming from livestock terms- such as “cattle tip” shown in the images above.  Alternatively, their orientation on the horizon points approximately to where the Sun rises and sets during the solstices. Whether a part of ancient livestock agriculture, marking annual astrological events, or something altogether different, these sea bowls in the volcanic basalt rock have endured the test of time as their shape remains even after being covered by hightide repeatedly for countless years.

For more about the geology and history of La Palma, see Professor Miguel Martin’s videos and podcasts in the Canarian prehistory magazine Iruene.