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Re: chicken in America: from Asia? (cont.)
L Baker <email@example.com> wrote:
>> The case of the Incas is extremely curious. When the Spanish arrived
>> to Peru, they found chickens extremely well established and widely
>> used in religious rituals. The name of the last Inca, Atahualpa is
>> connected with the word "chicken". Also the name of his uncle.
>Where does Carter say the Chicken was well-established among the Inca? He
>bases this entire statement upon Atahualpa's name, yet he also mentions
>that the chicken was named after Atahualpa, not Atahualpa being named
>after the chicken.
I am not sure who did what. I was browsing through my library looking for
something additional regarding the name of Atawalpa (also spelled by the
original Spaniards Atabalipa, Atabalica, etc.; note please that spellings were
limited to the sounds of the Spanish language of that time), and found
insteadsomething interesting right away: apparently chicken were in today's
Peru before the Spaniards arrived.
In 1571, Diego de Trujillo wrote about his remembrances of the Conquest. He
was present at Cajamarca at Atawalpa's capture. Even though he was an old man
when he dictated his chronicle, it is important to note the following passage:
"Llegamos a Caña que es una población grande, y de mucha comida, y ropa de la
tierra, que avía silos llenos della; [...] En este asiento se hallaron
gallinas de Castilla pocas, y todas blancas"
My translation: "We arrived at Zaña, a large town, with much food and local
clothes, with warehouses full of them; [...] In this place we found chickens
of Castilla a few, and all of them white"
It took me 30 minutes of almost random reading to stumble upon this. I would
believe that other mentions of the Spaniards finding Castilla chickens would
not be hard to come by. So far so good: this would confirm that Carter was
not inventing such findings. I accept that without too much of a problem.
It seems then that --as many other Old World imports, and as it has already
been mentioned here-- these animals spread rather quickly. The fact that
trade routes were established along the Pacific is pretty much confirmed. It
is not surprising at all that they arrived to the Inca domains well before a
single Spaniard put a foot there. Please note that the Inca dominated at the
time the largest political entity of the world, save the Ottoman and
--depending on your definitions of Empire-- the Chinese empires. so it is not
at all surprising that they were very aware of all the novelties --including
disease-- arriving to Panama and beyond. Tha natives of Darien (Panama) were
very much aware of the Incas, as the original story of Pizarro's decision
goes. It is not at all surprising that Wayna Kapaq would have received many
things coming from trade from that area. If disease (the smallpox that killed
him) came, many other things could have also come, especially taking into
account the incredible power they exercised at the time.
Their arrival seems to have been recent: they were only a few and all of them
I disagree with the assertion that this is circumstancial, let alone
incontrovertible, evidence of pre-Columbian contacts. It only points to
pre-Pizarro contacts. We need a smoking (or smoked: I cannot resist the pun)
chicken in clear pre-Columbian context (context, not only in archaeology, is
almost everything) to confirm that contact.
Now to some specific points:
>Why? Atahualpa may have been a common name for Inca elite. And unrelated
>to the chicken.
I do not have a reference handy, but Atawallpa does not seem to have been a
common name. I will check again (who knows what I will find this time).
>> We have already cited the account by Acosta. Now, another source,
>> Capa [a scholar of Spanish conquest] says: "In the first
>> accounts of the conquest, we frequently hear of hens..."
>> (Capa, 1915: V, 427) ... Capa had access to original sources,
>> ... His comments would seem to verify chickens for Paraguay
>> and Tucuman at contact time. (p. 202)
>Let us see the rest of Capa's quote "... and the name leads us to believe
>that they were like our own; this however, is not so and only the birds
>of Paraguay and Tucuman were somewhat similar to ours."
Agreed. The Spaniards chroniclers were always very assertive when they found
things they knew. For animals, the qualification "de Castilla" was always
used, especially when they found something they did not expect.
>> I think I should state here my belief that the last thing the
>> Europeans would have been worried about when they were subduing
>> native tribes is the derivation of the chickens.
Nope. They were very much interested in the truly new world, and recorded
every similarity and difference theoy could find to their own experience. And
they were not "subduing tribes". They got the big guy, a country ravaged by
civil war, demoralizing and depopulating diseases, alliances with enemies of
the Inca, and got it really easy. They were weary, scared, but they had time.
They could afford leaving a 30-man garrison to guard a town of 10000 people
without too much of a problem (even though sometimes they were killed).
Mr Baker again:
>But, Carter is not relying upon the original sources. His earliest source
>(Acosta) is writing in 1590, and Acosta seems to argue for a
>post-Hispanic introduction of the chicken. He is the one who states that
>the chicken was named after Atahualpa, not vice versa.
True. I do not know how he missed what I found.
Regarding the Asian-European chicken controversy, I really do not accept as
sufficient the "evidence" presented by Carter. We would need to know how much
variation was there at that time.
Mr K quotation:
>> All poultry experts agree on the presence of Asiatic races,
>> and they almost equally uniformly blandly assume post-1500
>> introductions. No proof is ever offered. (p. 205)
>> Finsterbusch (1929: 86) specifies for Brazil: "The best breeds
>> there are straight Oriental, Malays, Indian type ... (p. 210)
This is not quite enough. Context, again. The quote of Finsterbusch is in
the present tense (1929?) and as such means nothing regarding this discussion
(or Carter's for that matter). We would like to know more about those
"poultry experts". I really do.
>> It seems to me that the proponents of the "Instant Embrace Of
>> Chicken" by native peoples would like to tell us that the Spanish
>> not only introduced chickens with lightning speed, but they also
>> introduced the kind of fowl they didn't even themselves have in
>> Europe at that time!? Hard to believe...
It seems that chicken did not wait for the Spaniards to fly South. That is
not surprising as noted above. And the following by Mr Baker goes straight to
the point of the origin of Asian varieties, if that is relevant. (I believe
it is not, because I doubt that chicken procedence can be assessed from the
bones or iconography that would ultimately be needed to prove pre-Columbian
>The Spanish Empire of the 16th century embrased not only Europe and the
>New World, but also East Asia.
Mr K quotes Carter:
>> It seems significant that the location of our best zoological
>> record is among the Araucanians [in Chile]. In this area of
>> minimal Spanish influence, among an Indian people who remained
>> fiercely free into the 19 c. with their culture fairly intact
The long quotation about the Araucanians (or Mapuche) is even more irrelevant
because it refers to what is there today. So what. If Europeans sparrows can
by themselves displace American varieties, I do not see why domesticates
cannot install themselves faster. I believe Mr Carter could say the same of
domestic sheep, and perhaps find contacts with Aussies bringing Corriedale
crossbred sheep to very remote areas indeed. Or Brown Swiss in the Amazon.
The preservation of culture, on the other side, has very little to do with
contact. So what again. If you go to San Blas, in Panama, you will see a lot
of cultural traits being preserved by people that have had contact with
Europeans for more years than perhaps any living group of people in the
Americas. Sounds like Carter, even though being careful in qualifying his
points with "appear" and "perhaps" and "seems" is full of wishful-thinking.
Mr Baker also pointed:
>Not necessarily true. The Araucanians were a coastal people, involved in
>trade networks along the coast of South America in prehispanic times.
>doubt they would have abandoned these trade networks>
>Again, Carter's "evidence" can easily be explained without recourse to
Domingo Martinez Castilla