Underwater paleontologists have discovered the first prehistoric ochre mine in the Americas, dating back thousands of years.
The underwater mine was found in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
According to an article in Science Advances:
“The cave passages exhibit preserved evidence for ochre extraction pits, speleothem digging tools, shattered and piled flowstone debris, cairn navigational markers, and hearths yielding charcoal from highly resinous wood species. The sophistication and extent of the activities demonstrate a readiness to venture into the dark zones of the caves to prospect and collect what was evidently a highly valued mineral resource.”
Red ochre was used by North America’s earliest inhabitants as a paint.
“Considered to be a key component of human evolutionary development and behavioral complexity, ochre minerals were collected for use in rock paintings, mortuary practices, painted objects, and personal adornment for millennia.”
Check out the full article here.
(Image credit: Science Advances)