Mexican archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have located a site containing hundreds of tools made 11,000 to 8,000 years ago in the Cape region of Baja California Sur. The discovery of these artefacts further supports the hypothesis regarding a coastal migration route for the first settlers of the Americas.
A three year study
The site where the finds were discovered is called El Coyote and it joins a growing number of similar sites in the region, suggesting that people moved down the coast and arrived in what is now the peninsula of Baja California, during the early years of the Holocene.
The progress of the study conducted at the site three years ago was released by INAH archaeologist Isaac Aquino, director of research, along with Leticia Barajas, chief of field who claim El Coyote, “supports a substantial history of early and late human occupation on the peninsula“, a view several researchers in the region had previously suggested.
From analysis of archaeological materials found, specialists in stone and shell tool manufacture agree that they fit into a typology found elsewhere in the area, and fall into the same chronological framework. It is proposed that the same cultural group – yet to be identified – travelled down the coast of the Gulf of California from the north to the south occupying coastal sites on both the islands and mainland.
El Coyote covers about one hundred acres and is located on the Gulf Coast of California or Sea of Cortez. The artefacts that the archaeologists discovered consisted of worked stone tools and shells. Charred clams ( Chama buddiana) were also recovered - heating them in a fire is the easiest way to open the hard shell - as well as the remains of many other marine and terrestrial animals.
The fishing equipment represents another interesting group of finds, and three hooks made of mother of pearl (Pinctada mazatlanica) particularly stand out.
The ancient artefacts were found at various points around the El Coyote area which have been termed ‘camps’ by the archaeologists.
Tests performed on samples collected reveal a human presence in this region for 9000 years, right up until the sixteenth century. The initial study of materials by INAH researchers shows two distinct periods: the first dating from early Holocene period or Proto Desert (11 – 8,000 years ago) and the second in the Late Holocene (2,700 years ago) until the arrival of the first Spanish expedition to the Baja California peninsula in the sixteenth century. So far, little material evidence of the intervening time period in the region has been found.
Specialists have successfully identified 51 species of marine life in the zones examined at El Coyote – represented by bivalves and snails, as well as fish vertebrae and sea mammal bones (such as the dolphin and sea lion). Land animals are predominately represented by deer and hare and the remains of various types of birds are also present.
So far no human remains have been found, making it impossible to know what group the ancient inhabitants of El Coyote belonged to. However, archaeologist Isaac Aquinas explained that when the first Spanish explorers to the Cape arrived in the sixteenth century, this region was inhabited by a group belonging to the Pericú tribe.
Past Horizons. 2011. "9000 year old tools found in baja california". Past Horizons. Posted: October 25, 2011. Available online: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/10/2011/9000-year-old-tools-found-in-baja-california