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Reconstructing water levels and access to the subterranean pit of Hoyo Negro, Mexico

Author(s): Shawn Collins ; Eduard Reinhardt ; Dominique Rissolo

Year: 2014

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A pit (approx. 160 ft deep) named ‘Hoyo Negro’ was discovered in the underwater cave system of Aktun-Hu in the Yucatan Peninsula; Mexico. It contained numerous Pleistocene fossils (eg. gomphothere, sabertooth cat, groundsloth, black bear etc.) including the remains of a young PaleoIndian woman (radiometric dates are pending). The closest (225 ft) entrance to the Hoyo Negro pit is a small (approx. 25 x 10 ft) opening to the surface named Cenote Ich Balam. Questions regarding when and how animals and humans entered the cave and accumulated at the bottom of the pit are central to understanding site formation. Sediment cores (n= 6) from Ich Balam were recovered to constrain the timing of the cenote opening and determine when the cave passage leading to the pit was flooded with rising groundwater levels (sea-level). Sedimentary characters, radiocarbon dating, and the identification of aquatic microfossils (foraminifera, thecamoebians and ostracods) were used to determine that the cenote was open at least by 8170 Cal BP and that the cave passage (35 ft) leading to the pit was flooded and inaccessible before this time.

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Reconstructing water levels and access to the subterranean pit of Hoyo Negro, Mexico. Shawn Collins, Eduard Reinhardt, Dominique Rissolo. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436552)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-1,09

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