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Mexican archaeologists find the bow of a 210-year-old canoe in the State of Baja California
Scale model of the canoe made by Edward von der Porter. Photo:INAH.

MEXICO CITY.- In the southern limits of the state of Baja California, in the dunes of one of the coasts of the lagoon complex of Ojo de Liebre and Guerrero Negro, archaeologists rescued the bow of a 210-year-old canoe. It is speculated that either this canoe was fabricated by Bajacalifornian Indians or it was dragged by north currents and reused by the groups that inhabited the peninsula.

This vestige, found in the Manuela Lagoon, is part of a series of canoe discoveries registered by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), throughout the Bajacalifornian coast of the Pacific ocean, all along the Rosarito Beach all the way towards El Vizcaino; here they have also found wood trunks that derive of great and now extinct trees in the peninsula.

The investigator, Laura Romero Padilla, exposed the before mentioned after highlighting that these discoveries derive from explorations made by the INAH Center in Baja California, directed by archaeologist Antonio Porcayo, in some cases in collaboration with the Subaquatic Archeology Subdivision of the Institute, as is the case of the canoe rescue in Laguna Manuela.

“There are early evidences that suggest that plank canoes of the Chumash natives –American Indians south of California–, which date back to 950 and 1150 after Christ. Also, the ethnographic work between the Tolowa natives (tribe in the north of California) narrate their voyages as they would advance deep into the sea to make ritualistic activities, such as the annual hunt of the sea lion. Another example that should be highlighted is the case of the Tule rafts and the canoes of the coast of California as well as the Seri vessels”.

“We don’t know if the canoe was made by Bajacalifornian natives or if it arrived north by the currents, because the coast where we discovered the canoe is prone to the arrival of many different objects. Also, in the islands we have also found very big trunks of different kinds of wood which originate from the north of the continent, they are not native to Mexico”.

Judging by the characteristics of the canoe, the specialist thinks that it wasn’t used to navigate the sea, “it’s pretty small and light; the canoes meant for deep sea regularly had a higher bow that would help them break waves and were much heavier in order to resist the strength of the currents”.

Some investigators have proposed that the first canoes for the sea were the Tomol, however it’s also argued that they were not the only ones capable to make sea voyages, since there are also Tule rafts and canoes in the coast of California, whose capacity was demonstrated by the Seri of Sonora, when they made deep sea voyages transporting people and merchandise through rough waters.

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July 30, 2013

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