Underwater caves once hosted the Americas’ oldest known ochre mines


PREMO Member
Ancient Americans ventured deep into caves along a stretch of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to mine a red pigment that could have had both practical and ritual uses, researchers say.

Discoveries of mining-related artifacts and digging areas by divers in three now-submerged cave systems indicate that people there removed a natural pigment called red ochre, say archaeologist Brandi MacDonald of the University of Missouri in Columbia and her colleagues. Radiocarbon dates of burned wood from fires used to illuminate mining areas place humans at these sites between roughly 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, making it the oldest evidence of ochre mining in the Americas, the investigators report July 3 in Science Advances.

( Video )