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An 11,000-year-old ochre mine was discovered in a Mexican cave - video

Listen to this article In Mexico, cave divers have discovered a prehistoric red ochre mine located in a flooded cave system on the Yucatán peninsula. According to the findings, it has been determined that the mine was exploited between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, making it the oldest known mine in the Americas. The exact
Published: July 19, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:22
An 11,000-year-old ochre mine was discovered in a Mexican cave – video
Listen to this article

In Mexico, cave divers have discovered a prehistoric red ochre mine located in a flooded cave system on the Yucatán peninsula. According to the findings, it has been determined that the mine was exploited between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, making it the oldest known mine in the Americas.

The exact location where the discovery was made is, for obvious reasons, being kept secret. However, it has been made public that the discovery was made three years ago, and throughout this time, scientists have been quietly carrying out research. Now, having collected and compiled a satisfactory amount of data, the research team has decided to report everything and has published the results of their work.

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diver exploring fossils cave interior prehistoric orchy mine mexico divers24.pl Red ochre is the most widely identified inorganic paint used throughout history around the world. There is no evidence of how the first miners lived in the area, but they certainly appreciated the properties of the paint and may have used it as a means of painting rocks or body decoration, tanning animal skins or, thanks to its high arsenic content, as an insect repellent.

scooter dpv cave diver overcoming a clamp in a cave divers24.co.uk It is also worth mentioning that so far ten skeletons dating from the same Pleistocene-Holocene period have also been found in the flooded cave systems of Quintana Roo. According to experts’ findings, these people were probably looking for water or shelter here, as the caves were not flooded by water at the time. Now it seems that these early explorers had another reason to go underground.

The site christened “La Mina” was discovered by cave divers Sam Meacham and Fred Devos of CINDAQ (Research Centre of the Quintana Roo Aquifer System), who were later joined by Eduard Reinhardt of McMaster University in Canada. Underwater archaeologists from INAH (Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History) also joined the team to conduct research together.

diver surveying cave interior prehistoric orchy mine mexico divers24.pl La Mina, is a total of 900 m of underwater passages with a diameter of less than 70 cm. It was discovered in one of the three caves of the Sagitario system.

There Meacham and Devos noticed that many stalactites and stalagmites had been broken in half, while stones had been deliberately stacked in small triangular piles. There were also piles of coal on the floor, and traces of soot can be found on the ceiling and indentations carved into the ground, containing the remains of what on examination turned out to be ochre.

research material collected into test tubes flooded mine cave mexico divers24.co.uk A prehistoric orcha cave and the remains of the ancient inhabitants of these lands, is another stunning discovery that divers have made in the flooded caves of Mexico. The underwater tunnels filled with water not only buried and hid several thousand years of history from the outside world, but also saved it from oblivion, creating time capsules only accessible today.

fossils in a flooded mine cave mexico divers24.pl Thanks to advances in technology and the development of cave diving and cave exploration equipment, further great finds and discoveries seem to be only a matter of time.

Source: Science Advances

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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