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Jalisco’s 10,000-year love affair with obsidian

Archaeologist Rodrigo Esparza has been studying obsidian for 20 years. In a recent online conference sponsored by the University of Guadalajara, he summed up his observations about this volcanic glass which played a vital role in the history of Mexico.

pg8aThe biggest deposits of obsidian on this planet, he said, are found in the United States in the great plateau of Oregon. The next largest are in South Africa and then in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, with the Mexican state of Jalisco taking fourth place on the world stage.

“Jalisco has 54 deposits, but more are being found all the time,” said the professor. A case in point is the Sierra de Ahuisculco Wildlife Reserve (Selva Negra), whose obsidian fields are presently being studied for the first time: “More than 300 hectares of high-grade black and red obsidian have been mapped so far—dotted with hundreds of old mines and workshops—and the outer limits of the deposit have not yet been reached,” he said.

“Thanks to the discovery of two Clovis points in Jalisco, we know for sure that obsidian was being worked in this part of Mexico 10,000 years ago,” Esparza went on. “The Clovis points date back to Pleistocene times and were found at San Marcos Lake, just west of Lake Chapala.”

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