Proto-agricultural activity found in Mexican rock shelter

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The first finding of incipient agriculture for the state of Nuevo Leon (Mexico), practiced by collectors-hunters, such as seeds, corncobs and corn leaves which are calculated to date back to 3500 or 3000 BC, was registered by investigators from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) of said entity.

Proto-agricultural activity found in Mexican rock shelter
Evidence of Archaic Period incipient agriculture located in the El Morro,
Nuevo León [Credit: Araceli Estrada INAH]

“In Nuevo Leon we had not identified any archaeological site with this type of evidence. After two seasons in El Morro, municipality of Aramberri, we recovered approximately a million corncobs and fragments of these”, said Ph.D. Araceli Rivera Estrada, investigator for the INAH Center in the entity.

Araceli Rivera pointed out the importance of this finding since “proof that nomadic collectors-hunters of the region had been around since the Arcaic period. This will lead us to reevaluate the categories in which indigenous groups south of the state are designated”.

The investigator explained that the eldest registry of the three main crops domesticated in Mexico (corn, pumpkin and beans) originate from caves excavated in the 50’s and 60’s: Romero and Valenzuela, close to Ocampo (Tamaulipas); Coxcatlan and San Marcos, in the valley of Tehuacan (Puebla) and Guila Naquitz (oaxaca), with antiquities that date back from 7 thousand to 3 thousand years before Christ.

Proto-agricultural activity found in Mexican rock shelter
Thousands of corn cobs and corn husks were found in the
rock-shelter [Credit: Araceli Estrada INAH]

The INAH specialist added that the investigation took place in a small rocky shelter located in El Morro, Nuevo Leon, which contains abundant cave paintings, not only in the main wall of the entry, but also in several huge stones outside the shelter. The figures in the paintings represent anthropomorphic and zoomorphic creatures, among others.

The remains of the rural food produce are evidence of the material culture, subsistence patterns that were made by harvests and collectors. The cave paintings made by these groups reflect technological, social and ideological aspects. Cave Paintings

Araceli Rivera, who during several years has been dedicated to unraveling the significance of cave paintings and petroglyphs, emphasized that in Nuevo Leon there is an abundance of such manifestations in diverse rocky shelters used for housing and numerous rocks with engravings.

Proto-agricultural activity found in Mexican rock shelter
Wrapped corn husks [Credit: Araceli Estrada INAH]

In said zone there has been evidence of the “first architectonic structures of the northeast of Mexico”, which are housing foundations or stone structures; terraces and public or ceremonial spaces, surrounded by numerous hearths and nearby burnt rocks.

Also, the archaeologist concluded, they have found large quantities of lithic material and arrow heads of the Paleoindian period (8200 BC) and the Arcaic; as well as fossils belonging to mammoths, mastodonts, horses, camels, llamas and bisons principally salvaged from deposits in Nuevo Leon.

Source: INAH via Art Daily [November 28, 2013]

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