Monday, March 14, 2011

Archaeologists find nomadic camps in Baja California

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, Mexico.

The previously unknown sites came to light during recent archaeological salvage work carried out due to the upgrading of the San Felipe-Laguna Chapala highway.
The camps – several of which were discovered within caves or rock -shelters – correspond to 3 ages of occupation. According to the archaeologists, the earliest people to make use of these sites were small groups who travelled from the mountains to the coastline of the Sea of Cortes in order to fish, at least 8,000 years ago. The lithic tools which were found at the settlements were mainly obsidian and appear to show some similarities to those found in Riverside County, California, United States.

Antonio Porcayo, the archaeological field director explained, “ these discoveries will help to understand more about the history of Baja California including the archaeology surrounding the Sea of Cortes, something which we know very little about”.

He added, “among the most exciting aspects of the information gained from the camp sites is the obsidian exchange that appeared to be happening. Obsidian similar to that obtained from nearby deposits have been found in archaeological sites at Riverside in the United States, and this has never been studied until now”.

Other materials discovered within the camps consist of pipe fragments, lithic artefacts including arrowheads, ceramics, and the remains of molluscs, shark, dolphin, deer, wild sheep and pronghorn.

Evidence of bonfires were also located at each occupation level, and preliminary studies suggest three distinct periods:

* 8,000 and 9,000 years old (Palaeo-Indian)
* 3,000 years old (Archaic)
* 1,000 years old (Cochimi).

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