Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Chiquihuite Cave in Zacatecas, Mexico: Cultural Components, Lithic Industry and the Role of This Pleistocene Site in the Peopling of America

Ciprian Ardelean
ANNUAL MEETING of the Society for American Archaeology
Washington, DC,
April 11-15, 2018


The high altitude Pleistocene site of Chiquihuite Cave, in the Central-Northern Mexican Highlands, is slowly turning into one of the most important players on the sensitive stage of the debates about the earliest human presence in North America. After the first three exploration seasons and before the imminent continuation of the excavations at this multi-component archaeological site, we can surely talk about several important Late Pleistocene, older-than-Clovis occupational phases. Dozens of radiocarbon and luminescence dates confirm the chronological sequence of this prehistoric locality spanning over millennia. The sediments produced chemical signatures of human presence, as well as interesting palaeonvironmental indicators. The complicated lithic industry at the Cave, based on silicified limestone, shows a large array of taxonomic units, revealing strange but consistent technological approaches: flakes and blades, scrapers, burinated points, points on transversal flakes, bifacial and unifacial tools, intentionally fractured calcite and quartz laminae and so on. The explorations at Chiquihuite are the result of an international and interdisciplinary effort. Novel techniques have been implemented and the results produced a complex view of the ancient archaeological record. Dennis Stanford himself and the Smithsonian Institution played an important role at the very beginning of this scientific endeavor.

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