The El Gigante rocksheiter in highland Honduras was occupied as early as 10, 000 years B.P. and provides information previously lacking about the earliest periods of Honduran and Central American prehistory. Three distinct cultural horizons were identified and dated at the site using conventional and accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dates that correspond to the Early Archaic, the Middle Archaic, and the Formative to Classic periods. Dry conditions within the rockshelter resulted in excellent archaeological preservation across all time periods. Excavations documented a clear sequence of residential activity represented by well-defined cultural strata containing hearth and pit features as well as dense deposits of lithic, macrobotanical, and faunal remains. The variety of food items found throughout the transition from foraging to food production suggests the long-term maintenance of diet breadth in the context of a mixed and flexible subsistence economy. The El Gigante site reveals key information regarding the early occupation of Central America, the flora and fauna resources used by middle Holocene foragers, and the domesticated plant species cultivated during the late Holocene occupation of the rocksheiter.
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