The cultural landscape of the Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla, in subtropical Oaxaca, demonstrates the link between man and nature that gave origin to the domestication of plants in North America, thus allowing the rise of Mesoamerican civilizations.
The Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla is an extensive cultural landscape that lies on the northern slopes of the Tlacolula valley in the subtropical central part of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. The property consists of two pre-Hispanic archaeological complexes and a series of prehistoric caves and rock shelters.
The cultural landscape of the Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla demonstrates the link between man and nature that gave origin to the domestication of plants in North America, thus allowing the rise of Mesoamerican civilizations.
The Guilá Naquitz cave has provided extraordinarily well-preserved botanical evidence of bottle gourds, beans and squash as well as the earliest known maize cobs. The Cueva Blanca and Gheo Shih sites have caves providing evidence of Pleistocene animals and stone tools as well as the seasonal use of the abundant summer resources of fruit and small mammals.
Some of these shelters provide archaeological and rock art evidence for the progress of nomadic hunter-gathers to incipient farmers. Ten thousand-year-old Cucurbitaceae seeds in one cave, Guilá Naquitz, are considered to be the earliest known evidence of domesticated plants in the continent, while corn cob fragments from the same cave are said to be the earliest documented evidence for the domestication of maize.
The gradual shift from social groups based primarily on hunting to ones that were primarily based on settled agriculture took place in multiple areas at the same time across the Mesoamerican region. The property is an exceptional reflection of the evolution from hunter-gathering to more settled communities in this area of the Oaxaca valley.