12,000-year-old underwater ocher mines discovered in Mexico

CINDAQ divers have explored the underwater caves in the Yucatan peninsula.

"These are the oldest known ocher mines in the Americas. " Remains of approximately 12,000-year-old ocher mines have been discovered in underwater caves on the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico, the Research Center said on Friday. Quintana Roo aquifer system (CINDAQ), a private organization that explored the site and made the discovery.

Access to these caves, which used to be a dry space, is located about 10 kilometers inland from the famous beaches of the Mexican Caribbean that attract millions of tourists from around the world.

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The CINDAQ divers had to swim several kilometers through caves and passages which sometimes reach only 70 centimeters wide. They found that the underground landscape had been artificially altered, indicating that other people were living in these spaces. Subsequently, this presence was established over 10,000 years ago.

Flooded passages

The explorers took samples, took more than 20,000 photos and made hours of video recording. They gave them to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) as well as to other international experts from different disciplines, who are working on an assessment of the importance of the site.

"This revealed for the first time remarkably preserved mine sites which include extraction beds, pits, excavation tools and debris" (…), Added CINDAQ.

The first reports indicate that red ocher was a mineral pigment much appreciated by the first inhabitants of the western hemisphere, which would have encouraged them to explore these dangerous places to obtain it. The elaborate underground passages were once dry. But they were flooded about 8,000 years ago, creating ideal conditions for preserving traces of ancient human activity, the source said.

Evidence for mining activity suggests that it spanned 2,000 years and occurred between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago. "It was 8000 years before the establishment of the Mayan culture for which the region is well known", noted CINDAQ.

The World with AFP


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