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Mexico's new World Heritage

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4 August 2010

The significant sites of Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or the Silver Route, and the Prehistoric caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca were inscribed during a recent annual meeting of the organisation in Brasilia.

Camino Real de Tierra Adentro

The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was the Royal Inland Road, also known as the Silver Route.

In a statement UNESCO said: "The inscribed property consists of 55 sites and five existing World Heritage sites lying along a 1400 km section of this 2600 km route, that extends north from Mexico City to Texas and New Mexico, United States of America.

The route was actively used as a trade route for 300 years, from the mid-16th to the 19th centuries, mainly for transporting silver extracted from the mines of Zacatecas, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí, and mercury imported from Europe.

Although it is a route that was motivated and consolidated by the mining industry, it also fostered the creation of social, cultural and religious links in particular between Spanish and Amerindian cultures."

Prehistoric caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca

The Yagul and Mitla caves lie on the northern slopes of the Tlacolula Valley in subtropical central Oaxaca and consist of two pre-Hispanic archaeological complexes and a series of pre-historic caves and rock shelters.

In a statement UNESCO said: "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 corncob fragments from the same cave are said to be the earliest documented evidence for the domestication of maize.

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."

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