Surrounded by Mixe Mountain Range, caves distributed at Yagul and Mitla archaeological sites, in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, lodge the most important testimonies of the beginning of civilization in the Americas: At Guila Naquitz (white stone in Zapoteca), 10,000 years old Cucurbitaceae seeds were found, representing the earliest rests of domestic plants known until now in the continent.

The importance of these sites converts them in candidates for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. Sites such as Middle East places where first vestiges of wheat and barley domestication were found, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, in Canada, or the Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes, Belgium, already inscribed in the list, are examples of places that testify development of culture.

A technical evaluation of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an organism of UNESCO, will visit the caves of Yagul and Mitla to follow up the proposal which technical file was delivered a few months ago under the category of Cultural Landscape.  

If the file gets a positive valuation, it is possible that the site might be inscribed in the World Heritage List by mid-2010, announced Dr. Nelly Robles Garcia, president of the Archaeology Council of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

Dr. Robles mentioned that until now, more than 40 dwelling-caves have been registered, among them Guila Naquitz, Martinez Rock shelter and Cueva de la Paloma – which shows transition from nomadic to sedentary society-, as well as 80 rock shelters.

“This region has many caves, which guarded small groups of hunters and gatherers that left imprints inside such as Rupestrian paintings, lithic elements and all kinds of projectiles”, declared Robles, also director of Monte Alban Archaeological Zone.

According to research conducted by Kent V. Flannery, occupation of these Prehistoric sites goes back to 8000 BC. Other studies found that the corn cob fragments found at the site are the earliest evidence that documents the origin of maize.
INAH archaeologist Antonio Martinez Muñon, in charge of research and conservation of the caves, stated that in this zone were found “the earliest vestiges of nomadic hunter-gatherer groups’ progress to incipient farmers and the development process of Mesoamerican cultures”.  
Management plan for the site is in process, including the integration of a Scientific Committee that gathers INAH experts, National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, “Benito Juarez” Autonomous University of Oaxaca, Oaxaca Technological Institute and Oaxaca State Tourism Ministry. The community and several civil associations support the initiative as well.  
Martinez Muñon concluded saying that a Site Committee will be formed with the help of Oaxaca State Government, municipalities, and Comision Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indigenas (National Commission for Indigenous Peoples Development).