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maize in Asia: other evidence

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at mail.trends.ca
Sun Mar 15 14:15:49 EST 1998

Jeffrey L Baker (jbaker at U.Arizona.EDU) wrote:
: On 10 Mar 1998, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:


: > 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.
: Yuri is suggesting that I am not providing details because it is
: embarrassing to my position. Yet, on March 5, 1998, I posted an article
: that included this very quote (a post that Hu responded to on March 8).


Sorry for implying this. The problem was that my newsserver, usually quite
reliable, missed your post. Had I seen your post, I would not have written
what I wrote then. 

: This quote is relevant for three reasons:
: One, there is no mention of botanical remains of maize, two, there is
: no mention of the Hoysala temples (which were discussed in the 1970's in
: Current Anthropology)

The Hoysala temples are mentioned elsewhere in that publication.

: and three, it demonstrates that some paleobotanists
: in India are quite receptive to the idea that maize might be present in 
: precolumbian strata in India (which rules out the suggestion that
: archaeologists are throwing out maize remains as being inclusive).


: > 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.
: Like Yuri, I originally attributed this section to Chowdhury, but a
: reexamination of the article suggests that Chowdhury only wrote the 
: section on charcoal remains (the last page or so), while Vishnu-Mittre
: wrote the rest of it, including the section on maize.

I see.


: > Lower Deccan. The area now covered by Karnataka State was ruled by several
: > important dynasties in the late historical period -- the Chalukyas, ... 
: > the Hoysalas, etc., -- who studded the land with temples and left behind
: > inscriptions and coins. But the archaeology proper of the area during this
: > period [Late Historical] has been inadequately studied, with the result
: > that hardly anything of the material culture is known. 
: > 
: > [end quote]
: This quote is only relevant if maize was thought to be confined to the 
: 12th and 13th centuries in the Hoysala region of India. Yuri (on March 9,
: 1998) makes it very clear that he thinks maize was present "in many places
: in Asia" 

Yes, I believe maize was elsewhere in Asia. But you have to keep in mind
that this research is new and also severely underfunded, so we cannot be
too confident about where else exactly it was. 


: What I have been arguing (and continue to argue) is that there has been
: ample archaeological work in India, without finding any botanical remains
: of maize. 

Again, when we think about the recent breakthoughs with pre-Clovis
research, the same sort of statement could have been made, i.e.:

"There has been ample archaeological work in the Americas, without finding
any sign of pre-Clovis occupation." 

Would have that meant that there was no pre-Clovis occupation? I don't
think so.

: It is also worth noting the following book: Palaeoethnobotany: Plants and 
: Ancient Man in Kasmir, Farooq A. Lane, Maqsoda Khan, G.M. Buth. Rotterdam:
: A. A. Balkema. 1993.
: This book provides information from the Kasmir Valley in the Himalayas
: (where the primitive maize is located). It is also located along the 
: Silk Road. Guess what? No precolumbian maize. Though it is grown locally
: today.

Again, see above.

And what about that reference to some ancient maize found in Java? Do you
know anything about this? This may be a very important piece of
archaeological evidence.

Meanwhile I would like to point your attention to the fact that you only
comment on the presumed shortage of archaeological evidence. But since we
have so much other evidence, including the "living fossil maizes" in the
Indian highlands, the shortage of archaeological evidence cannot be
considered as decisive in any sense. 



Yuri Kuchinsky  -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku  NEWLY UPDATED

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than
to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith

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