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INAH Researchers Find 8 Camps Occupied by Nomadic Groups, Some of Them, 8,000 Years Ago
Among the most relevant aspects of the camps’ information is the obsidian exchange they had with other cultural regions, having rock from the nearby deposits found in archaeological sites at Riverside; places where the people that exploited the deposits had never been studied until now”. Photo: Archaeologist Antonio Porcayo/INAH.

MEXICO CITY.- Eight archaeological sites, some of them occupied 8,000 years ago by nomadic groups, were discovered by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in the municipality of Ensenada, Baja California. Lithic tools were found at the settlements mainly made out of obsidian, similar to those discovered in Riverside County, California.

The last would verify obsidian exportation conducted by ancient dwellers of Baja California with exchange purposes, informed archaeologist Antonio Porcayo, coordinator of the excavation project at Ensenada, mentioning that several of these sites are located inside caves and were discovered during the recent archaeological salvage work conducted due to the remodeling of San Felipe-Laguna Chapala highway.

Camps are distributed throughout 9 kilometers to the east of Santa Isabel Mountain Range, to the northeast of the Mexican state, and correspond to 3 different occupation stages: the earliest is related to fishermen groups that went from the mountain range to the coast of the Sea of Cortes, at least 8,000 years ago.

“Findings will bring in relevant information to solve the riddle of Baja California history, since archaeology of the Sea of Cortes is still unknown, it has only been studied recently”.

The archaeologist, who works at the Baja California INAH Center, mentioned that the names given to these sites are: Puertecitos, El Regino, El Huerfanito, El Juanjo, Caro´s Cave, Paido’s Cave, El Zacateco and Los Pescadores.

“Among the most relevant aspects of the camps’ information is the obsidian exchange they had with other cultural regions, having rock from the nearby deposits found in archaeological sites at Riverside; places where the people that exploited the deposits had never been studied until now”.

Porcayo explained that the ancient indigenous dwellers of what today is Baja California did not build constructions; they slept and ate inside the caves, where intact vestiges of the last nomadic groups that dwelled them have been found.

Among discovered material are pipe fragments; lithic artifacts like arrowheads; ceramics, and remains of animals consumed by the early South Californians, such as mollusks, sharks, dolphins, deer, wild sheep and pronghorns.

A great amount of bonfires were found –up to nine in a 6 by 2 meters area- that correspond to different ages. Carbon was collected from different contexts to conduct dating studies that will accurately determine the different occupation moments.

According to preliminary studies, the archaeologist proposes 3 different temporalities for the vestiges: the earliest could be between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago, corresponding to the Paleo-Indian period; other material, around 3,000 years old, would correspond to the Archaic age, and the latest could correspond to Cochimi Culture, being approximately 1,000 years old.

Antonio Porcayo commented that the caves have different sizes, being the most important Caro’s Cave, measuring approximately 20 square meters, where a lot of material was found. It has been calculated that each rocky shelter was dwelled by families of 5 to 7 members.

Deposits of agate, rhyolite and obsidian were identified; according to the specialist, they were exploited by inhabitants to manufacture tools.

To verify possible exchange of obsidian with regions where artifacts made out of Baja California raw material were found, the lithic objects undergo chemical studies conducted in the University of California, Berkley, while dating of carbon samples is still taking place at the INAH Radiocarbon Laboratory, concluded Antonio Porcayo.

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