A diver examines a rock pile thought to be an ancient navigational marker inside a 12,000-year-old ochre mine in Quintana Roo, Mexico. © CINDAQ.ORG
Now the blood-red rock—a treasured crimson mineral known as ochre—has been found again, this time by underwater divers who were the first people in tens of centuries to return to these now-submerged caves. Scientists have confirmed that the site, now part of a coastal cave system in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is one of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest known ochre mining sites. Ochre, which was used for rock art, body decoration, tanning animal hides, and possibly medicine, was a prize miners would go to great lengths to obtain, from the jungles of Mesoamerica to the grasslands of Africa.
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