Water and Prehistoric Agriculture near the Ocampo Caves, Tamaulipas: Integrating Archaeological and Geospatial Applications

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 11:00
, Kevin - Texas Department of Transportation
, Brian - Freese and Nichols

The Ocampo region of Tamaulipas, Mexico is well known for archaeological evidence of early domesticated plants and the development of prehistoric food production, documented in the 1950s in three cave sites. Because these early investigations emphasized only one facet of the local settlement system (cave use), the wider spectrum of land use remained ambiguous. Our research addresses the broader context of the Ocampo caves through archaeological survey and geospatial analysis of the surrounding landscape. Field survey revealed additional caves sites as well as open-air settlements in a wide range of topographic settings. A suitability raster produced using a geographic information system weighted overlay analysis identified suitable farming locations, as well as least cost distance zones and travel pathways between sites and from sites to water sources. This predictive tool can facilitate detection of additional early agricultural sites in Ocampo by concentrating future fieldwork on high probability settings.