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An Overview of the Hoyo Negro Project and Its Findings

Author(s): Pilar Luna-Erreguerena ; James Chatters ; Patricia Beddows ; Dominique Rissolo ; Shanti Morell-Hart

Year: 2015

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Summary

Hoyo Negro is an immense, underwater collapse chamber deep within the Sac Aktun Cave system, Quintana Roo, Mexico. On its floor lie data-rich calcite raft deposits, bat guano piles, scatters of wood and charcoal, skeletons of large animals, and the remains of one teen-age human female. These sediments and fossils lie in total darkness, >40 meters below sea level, creating major technical challenges for their study and recovery. Investigations by a team of divers and scientists from Mexico, the US, and Canada, which began in 2011 using in situ study and minimal sampling, have begun to unlock this trove of potential information about the terminal Pleistocene paleoecology and human occupation of the Yucatan Peninsula. Thus far we have mapped the site in detail, identified as many as five extinct species of megafauna (two perhaps new to science), conducted geochemical studies of the calcite raft deposits to elucidate patterns of climatic change, determined the age range of the site, and begun studies of the human remains. Overall, the site dates from ca 8000 to >40,000 BP. Naia, as the girl has been named, is as much as 12,900 years old and her mitochondrial DNA places her origin firmly in Beringia.

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An Overview of the Hoyo Negro Project and Its Findings. James Chatters, Pilar Luna-Erreguerena, Dominique Rissolo, Patricia Beddows, Shanti Morell-Hart. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396536)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America