82nd Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology, #140
The systematic search for ancient human presence in the Zacatecas semi-desert of central-northern Mexico continued with new field explorations and excavations during 2016. A new season at the Chiquihuite Cave was meant to verify the weak signals of older-than-Clovis human presence obtained a few years ago. The new extended excavation inside the high-altitude cave revealed two old, clearly differentiated cultural components that had not been acknowledged before. The upper component is clearly laid upon a well-defined occupation floor far away from the entrance, next to the rear walls of the main chamber. It consists mainly of a relatively rich lithic assemblage, while the study of other proxies is under way. It is true that several questions must be made about the assemblage, especially due to its raw material and the technological attributes, but its cultural origin is self-evident. Multiple radiocarbon dates yielded matching results of an age much older than 14,000 cal BP. Another component, much weaker in its characteristics, seems to exist below the upper one, manifested as cultural finds distributed vertically to a considerable depth. Several radiocarbon results suggest an apparent age for the oldest cultural presence going beyond currently accepted dates.