Ancient footprints of Acahualinca

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2100-year-old human footprints preserved in volcanic mud near the lake in Managua, Nicaragua. HuellasdeAcahualinca.jpg
2100-year-old human footprints preserved in volcanic mud near the lake in Managua, Nicaragua.

The Ancient footprints of Acahualinca (Spanish pronunciation:  [akawaˈliŋka] ; Spanish : Huellas de Acahualinca) exist in Managua, Nicaragua near the southern shore of Lake Managua. The region was once called "El Cauce". [1] The tracks are fossil Late Holocene human footprints left behind in volcanic ash and mud, which solidified about 2,120±120 years ago, shortly after the group of up to 15 people passed by. [2]

Spanish or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 450 million native speakers in Spain and the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Managua Capital city of Nicaragua

Managua is the capital and largest city of Nicaragua, and the center of an eponymous department. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua and inside the Managua Department, it has an estimated population 1,042,641 in 2016 within the city's administrative limits and a population of 1,401,687 in the metropolitan area, which additionally includes the municipalities of Ciudad Sandino, El Crucero, Nindirí, Ticuantepe and Tipitapa.

Nicaragua Country in Central America

Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.


It is sometimes reported that the people were running to escape from a volcanic explosion, but the distance between the footprints indicates a walking gait. [3] Fossilized footprints of several animals are also present, but the fact that they intersect the human footprints shows they were not traveling with the people. [4]

Scientific analysis of the footprints

In 1874, construction workers discovered the footprints. The United States medical doctor and archaeological collector, Earl Flint, brought the footprints to the attention of the international science community and media in 1884. [5]

The Carnegie Institution of Washington began the first scientific analysis and excavations of the area in 1941 and 1942. They also constructed a museum and a building to protect the footprints. [6]

Work was continued by Joaquín Matilló, Allan L. Bryan and Jorge Espinosa in the 1960s and 1970s. Allan L. Bryan, from the University of Alberta, used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of soil humates, from a buried soil directly underlying the footprints, to 5,945±145 radiocarbon years Before Present. [3] Based upon this date, he estimated that the footprints dated to about 5,000 Before Present. But, later dating of the volcanic deposits in which they occur, known as the Masaya Triple Layer, demonstrated that the fossil tracks are only about 2,120 ± 120 years old. [2] In 1978, the Nicaraguan researcher Jorge Espinosa continued the excavation near the termination of the original excavation. He uncovered more footprints at a depth of 4 meters. [4] The track is believed to continue further. [7]

University of Alberta public research university in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The University of Alberta is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta, and Henry Marshall Tory, its first president. Its enabling legislation is the Post-secondary Learning Act. The university is considered a “Comprehensive academic and research university” (CARU), which means that it offers a range of academic and professional programs, which generally lead to undergraduate and graduate level credentials, and have a strong research focus.

Radiocarbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.

Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as the commencement date (epoch) of the age scale, reflecting the origin of practical radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP" has been interpreted retrospectively as "Before Physics"; that refers to the time before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable.

Specimens of these footprints can be viewed at both the Peabody Museum of Archaeology at Harvard University and the United States National Museum. [8]

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Archaeology museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is a museum affiliated with Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1866, the Peabody Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums focusing on anthropological material, with particular focus on the ethnography and archaeology of the Americas. The museum is caretaker to over 1.2 million objects, some 900 linear feet of documents, 2,000 maps and site plans, and approximately 500,000 photographs. The museum is located at Divinity Avenue on the Harvard University campus. The museum is one of the four Harvard Museums of Science & Culture open to the public.

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 13,100 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, wealth, and academic reputation have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It is cited as the world's top university by many publishers.

Acahualinca Museum

The "Museo Sitio Huellas de Acahualinca" is located at west of Managua, in the eponymous Acahualinca town. The museum was founded in 1953 by Nicaraguan scientist Leonor Martínez, later in 1989, was rescued, restored and fitted out with the support of "ASDI" and the Historical Museum of Sweden. In addition to footprints, the museum features a small collection of pottery and other items of archaeological interest from several sites in Nicaragua. Previously there were stone tools and a skull from León Viejo. [4]

Acahualinca Huellas 2.png
Human and animal footprints.
Acahualinca Ceramica.png
Polychrome ceramic pot.

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  3. 1 2 Bryan, Alan L (1973). "New light on ancient Nicaraguan footprints". Archaeology. 26 (2): 146–147.
  4. 1 2 3 "Acahualinca Footprints Museum, Tourist Attractions, Culture". Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  5. Flint, Earl (1884). "Human footprints in Nicaragua". Am. Antiquarian. 6: 112–114.
    Flint, Earl (1885). "Human footprints in Nicaragua". Am. Antiquarian. 7: 156–158.
  6. Carnegie Institution of Washington. "Geologic observations on the ancient human footprints near Managua, Nicaragua". Contributions to American Anthropology and History. 11 (52).
  7. "Ancient footprints of Acahualinca". ViaNica. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  8. Brown, Roland W (January 1947). "Fossil plants and human footprints in Nicaragua". Journal of Paleontology. 21 (1): 38–40. JSTOR   1299291.