Coxcatlán Cave

Useful Information

Location: Tehuacán, Mexico City
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Karen Hardy (): , Current Anthropology, 37, 4, August-October 1996, pp. 700-716.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1960 archaeologist Richard MacNeish conducted a survey of schoolteachers in the area and thus found the cave.


Coxcatlán Cave is one of numerous caves in the Tehuacán Valley with its dry thorn forest. 7000-5400 BP the inhabitants of Mexico were seasonal nomads who part of the time lived in small hunting encampments and part in larger temporary villages. The villages were used as bases for collecting plants such as various grasses and maguey and cactus fruits. Maize (Zea mays), a wild grass, first came under cultivation probably 7000 BP. This is of enormous importance, as this is the start of the cultivation of what we today know as corn. And probably one of the earliest and most important places with ancient corn remains is Coxcatlán Cave. The operiod 7000-5400 BP is today called the Coxcatlán Phase.

The sediments of Coxcatlán Cave showed 28 layers with remains of human occupation, called zones. The most important finds are a small corn cob (5000 BC) and an ink pen. Also some objects used by humans prior to ceramics were found.

The name Tehuacán translates Place of the Gods or Place of Stones. In this area nine distinct cultures or phases were found.