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MAIZE Project - Archaeological History Detail

History of Maize Domestication: Early Maize Sites

Evidence of early maize is found in several Mexican cave sites where arid environmental conditions are ideal for the preservation of organic plant remains. The first archaeological discoveries of early maize occurred during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when cave sites such as Bat Cave in New Mexico and a series of sites including La Perra Cave, Romero\'s Cave, and Valenzuela\'s Cave in northeastern Mexico were excavated. The most famous early discoveries come from Coxcatl·n and San Marcos caves, in the Tehuacan Valley of southern Mexico, where Richard MacNeish and an interdisciplinary team of researchers recovered extremely well-preserved maize cobs and an abundance of other plant remains. Presently, the earliest evidence of maize comes from the Guil· Naquitz site, located in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, which was excavated by Kent Flannery during the late 1960s.

List of Early Maize Sites:
Most of the evidence for maize domestication comes from a series of dry cave sites in Mexico. The arid and semi-arid conditions of these caves promote preservation of organic remains, such as corncobs and kernels, which provide evidence of maize domestication. These caves were excavated during the 1950s and 1960s by prominent researchers studying the emergence of agriculture.

Tamaulipas
Tamaulipas is a state located in northeastern Mexico. Romero's cave and Valenzuela's Caves are located near the town of Ocampo.

  1. La Perra
  2. Romero's Cave
  3. Valenzuela's Caves

Tehuac·n Valley
The Tehuac·n Valley sites are located in the state of Puebla in central Mexico. These sites were excavated by Richard MacNeish and an interdisciplinary team of researchers during the 1960s.


  1. Coxcatl·n Cave
  2. San Marcos Caves

Oaxaca
Guil· Naquitz is located in the state of Oaxaca located in southern Mexico. The Guil· Naquitz excavations were led by Kent Flannery of the University of Michigan.


  1. Guil· Naquitz

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