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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Historical and contemporary perceptions of the Guanches of the Canary Islands
Author:Eddy, Michael R.
Periodical:Maghreb Review
Geographic term:Canary Islands
ethnic groups
Abstract:The Guanches, the pre-Spanish inhabitants of the Canary Islands, have been considered as a race apart almost since the earliest European contacts with them. This isolation was the outcome of a distortion of the historical record for political reasons and a failure by the European invaders to understand the local society. It has been further emphasized during this century by somatological studies founded on inaccurate and outmoded techniques. A limited reexamination of the European documentary evidence and the overdue introduction of improved archaeological methods on some sites suggests that this isolation was illusory. There was interisland and extraisland contact, though its intensity is as yet unknowable. Accepting some degree of cultural interchange with the African continent allows for the construction of a quite different model from that currently in vogue. The Guanches formed part of the Berber world and were subject to changes within that cultural whole. When the Berber groups first settled within the islands shortly before the opening of the Christian era they were pagan herders and farmers. They had some contact with the Roman world, but they were on the fringe of that world. Bibliogr.