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Ochre Mines Identified in Mexico’s Flooded Caves

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mexico Ochre MineMEXICO CITY, MEXICO—The Associated Press reports that hearths, smoke marks, firewood, stacked mining debris, pieces of broken stalagmites, stone tools, navigational aids, and digging sites have been found in flooded caves in the Yucatan peninsula. The remains of nine individuals dating back some 13,000 years have also been found in the caves, which flooded some 8,000 years ago. The artifacts suggest that people entered the cave system to mine tons of iron-rich red ochre, which was used in decorations and rituals. “Now we know that ancient humans did not risk entering this maze of caves just to get water or flee from predators, but that they also entered them to mine,” explained Roberto Junco Sánchez of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. For more on the archaeology of the Yucatan, go to "Maya Maize God's Birth."

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