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maize in Asia before Columbus

Jeffrey L Baker jbaker at U.Arizona.EDU
Sat Mar 14 16:10:42 EST 1998

On Fri, 13 Mar 1998, Hu McCulloch wrote:

>  yuku at mail.trends.ca (Yuri Kuchinsky) writes:
> >2.2.7 _Zea Mays_ (maize, makka). Imprints found at KAUNDINYAPURA in c.
> >1435. Primitive (living fossil) maize in Sikkim is cytologically different
> >from American of Carribean maize, supporting its pre-Columbian occurrence
> >in the subcontinent, though perhaps it was reintroduced by the Arabs.
> >[end quote]
> >This of course refers to the work of Vishnu-Mittre which has been
> >considered in some detail previously last year by me and Peter. It seems
> >like Chowdhury is persuaded that this archaeological evidence is valid.
> Yes, it does!  On rereading J&P, I think they 
> are overly cautious about these potsherd imprints
> of maize kernels and leaves from Madhya Pradesh.  They note that the 
> imprints have Width/Thickness (W/T) ratio of 2.0, whereas the kernels in 
> the Somnathpur temple, depicted at
If maize was present at Kaundinyapura, why didn't it appear in the
botanical remains from that site (which Vishnu-Mittre analyzed)?

> me he's aware of something there, but hasn't had the opportunity to check it 
> out adequately yet.  Were the references to it authored by Chowdhury?
> Perhaps we should try to contact him.

Chowdhury is deceased. The only reference in that section of the
encyclopedia is to the excavation report of Kaundinyapura 
Dikshit, M. G., 1968, Exavations at Kaundinyapur. Bombay.

> It does stand to reason that there should be lots of maize 
> remains to be found if it really was as important as J&P claim it must have 
> been.  The fact that none have turned up may simply reflect that there haven't 
> been that many digs in the relevant area.

Are you arguing that it was only present in the Hoysala area in the 13th
and 14th centuries? There has been ample research in other areas of India.

Also over the last ten years a major project has been ongoing at
Vijayanagara (in the southern Deccan), including work into the
agricultural activities by Kathleen Morrison. No maize.

This site was occupied from around 1350 to ca. 1600.

Jeff Baker

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