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1 March 2017 Revisiting the Archaeobotanical Record of Romero's Cave in the Ocampo Region of Tamaulipas, Mexico
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In 1953–54, Richard S. MacNeish's archaeological investigations in three dry cave sites near Ocampo in southwest Tamaulipas generated important evidence for the early spread of domesticated plants into northeast Mexico. His findings indicate the local development of a mixed foraging-farming economy that persisted for millennia, eventually culminating in settled farming villages. While these discoveries remain central to discussions of Mesoamerican agricultural origins, the spectrum of wild plant utilization in Ocampo is largely unknown because the excavation results were never fully published. Specialists who analyzed the domesticated maize (Zea mays), beans (Phaseolus spp.) and cucurbits (squashes, gourds [Cucurbitaceae]) published their findings and MacNeish produced several synthetic articles with summaries of subsistence practices in Ocampo. However, while these sources recognize that wild plants dominated the local diet early in the sequence and continued in use throughout the height of village agriculture, little consideration has been given of wild taxa. In this article I discuss the contents of curated plant assemblages recovered from excavations in one of these sites, Romero's Cave (Tmc247). Unpublished field reports contextualize these materials and present additional information on plants encountered but not curated. Although fragmentary, these data elucidate the non-agricultural component of the prehistoric economies reflected in the cave occupation layers and enrich understanding of human adaptations on the northeastern periphery of Mesoamerica.

J. Kevin Hanselka "Revisiting the Archaeobotanical Record of Romero's Cave in the Ocampo Region of Tamaulipas, Mexico," Journal of Ethnobiology 37(1), 37-59, (1 March 2017).
Published: 1 March 2017

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