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New discoveries shed light on the ‘first Yucatecos’

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Paleontologists say that human remains found in Tulum’s cenotes could re-write the history of the Yucatán. Photo: INAH

The discovery of pre-historic human remains near Tulum sheds light on the origins of Yucatán’s first inhabitants. 

The finds include bones that isotope analyses have dated to between 13,000 and 10,000 years old.  

These remains raise questions regarding established theories of human migration to the Americas by a pre-historic culture known as the Clovis. 

“We are finding remains just as old as the earliest Clovis finds in the United States and Northern Mexico, but these skulls are completely different. They may in fact belong to an entirely different group of people,” said a German paleontologist, Wolfgang Stinnesbeck in an interview with La Jornada Maya. 

The first of these ancient remains stated being extracted from cenotes near Tulum in 2006, but since then many more have been found.

The precise location of these cenotes has not been disclosed to the public out of concern that looting may become a problem

Earlier: More remains of the world’s largest shark found in the depths of a cenote in Yucatán

“With every dive, we are finding more and more pre-historic remains. Of the roughly 10 kilometers of this subterranean network we have only been able to cover about 20% over two decades,” said Stinnesbeck.

The connection between these pre-historic yet anatomically modern humans and the ancestors of the first Maya people in Yucatán remains a topic of hot debate in the scientific community. 

The Archaic Maya period is calculated to have kicked off before 2000 BCE and saw the first developments in agriculture and the earliest villages.
By 750 BCE, Maya villages began to grow into large cities possessing monumental architecture, including large temples with elaborate stucco facades.

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