It seems like Mexico is always making news for its growing list of mind-blowing archaeological discoveries, which most recently include what may be the oldest known footprints in the Americas, as well as a treasure trove of new ancient Mayan artifacts and human remains.
The footprints were found running through the remote Coahuila valley of Cuatro Cienegas, which is mostly desert and lies just under 200 miles from Eagle Pass, Texas, in the U.S. Presumed to have been made by hunter-gatherers who lived in the area several thousand years ago, they may predate the Americas’ current oldest known footprints by at least two thousand years, although farther testing is still underway at a UK laboratory to confirm this.
“We believe (the footprints) are between 10,000 and 15,000 years old,” shared archaeologist Yuri De la Rosa Gutierrez of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. “We have evidence of the presence of hunter-gatherers in the Coahuila desert more than 10,000 years ago.”
Currently, the oldest footprints discovered in the entire Western Hemisphere are in Chile, and have been dated back 13,000 years. Next in line are a variety of examples at around 6,000 years old found in the U.S., Brazil and Nicaragua. The world’s oldest known hominid footprints in the world are believed to exist in Africa, and were made more than 3.5 million years ago.
In addition, more than 20 submerged skeletons and other artifacts have been recovered from the Cenote Sac Uayum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, not far from Cancun and the Rivera Maya, according to National Geographic Magazine. The cenote, or underwater cave, is still undergoing extensive exploration with support from the Waitt Foundation for Exploration and the National Geographic Society. The goal is to facilitate understanding and document the wealth of artifacts found in the cenote, which were left behind by the region’s ancient Mayan inhabitants, who believed the watery underworld was a type of gateway to the afterlife that was guarded by a large serpent.
“We have located 15 human crania and a large number of other bones, attesting to the use of the site as a burial location,” states Nat Geo grant recipient Bradley Russell. “Ceramic fragments from water jars and a plate show a mix of Preclassic and Postclassic Maya use of the cenote.”