LA 112766

The Early Maize Site

Overview Analysis
Archaeological site LA 112766 is an ancient campsite occupied multiple times over thousands of years. It is notable for the presence of maize (corn), including some of the earliest evidence for the plant in the Permian Basin. Hearths and burned rock concentrations, along with numerous stone tools, pottery sherds, and over 40 groundstone artifacts, indicate people favored this location. The presence of El Paso Polychrome ceramics, a Livermore projectile point, among other artifacts suggest particularly intense occupation during the Formative Period.

Previous research conducted in 2019 suggests that LA 112766 was occupied during the Formative Period between AD 200 and 1400. Radiocarbon dating of features excavated in 2021 indicates three periods of occupation spanning the Archaic through Formative periods: 2880-2370 BC, AD 130-540, and AD 650-1240.


Site occupants’ diets included a diverse array of plant and animal resources. Botanical remains, including starch and pollen, suggest people were eating maize (corn), pecan/hickory, and goosefoot. Maize (corn) pollen was recovered from a feature that dates between 2876 and 2626 BC. Common faunal, or animal-related, remains, include waterfowl, quail fish, mussels, and clams. 


Numerous tools were discovered during excavation including projectile points, ceramics, debitage, and groundstone tools. Of particular interest are a paired mano and metate suggesting people were grinding maize (corn), mesquite beans, or another other plant material.


Present vegetation in the area includes mesquite, yucca, and sagebrush. The environment during the site’s habitation was similar to today’s; however, a steep-sided gully near LA 112766 as well as the presence of mussels and clams suggest there may have been a nearby water source.