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Re: maize in ancient india: strong transpacific links are indicated
In <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) writes:
>[followups directed to: sci.archaeology.mesoamerican, sci.archaeology,
>Well, ladies and gentlemen, some of you may have followed these
>discussions about trans-Pacific diffusion of cultural traits and
>other things for a while. Did the people of Asia and America
>communicate with each other across the ocean before Columbus? What
>about those ancient sailors?
>Great many individual items were considered in all these sometimes
>heated discussions. Some of them appeared, to me and others, to
>indicate diffusion rather persuasively, and some others not quite to
>the same extent... We have been looking for a "Smoking Gun" for some
>time, and many candidates have been suggested. Some of them still
>quite valid to me. I delayed responding to detailed criticisms of my
>opponents about sweet potato and some other items, mainly because I
>didn't want to get too technical with one single item when so many
>relevant and promising items pointing in the same direction needed
>to be evaluated and researched. The adventures of the chicken are
>still unfolding in these groups, and the follow-ups keep adding up
>in the discussion threads.
>Nevertheless, up to now, I've not been able to identify a real
>"Smoking Gun". Such real "Smoking Gun" would need to be something
>preferably not too complex to evaluate that, if considered by an
>impartial observer, will _leave no doubt_ in the mind of the
>observer that these ancient transoceanic contacts _existed for
>sure_. But now, it seems, I have it! What a moment...
>[I am grateful to my netpal Kerry A. Shirts <email@example.com> for
>pointing me towards this research. He seems to have been keeping up
>this sort of material for some time, and had accumulated much data
>Carl L. Johannessen and Anne Z. Parker, MAIZE EARS SCULPTURED IN
>12TH AND 13TH CENTURY A.D. INDIA AS INDICATORS OF PRE-COLUMBIAN
>DIFFUSION, in Economic Botany, 1989, 43 (2): 164-180.
>That's where it is. And here's the abstract:
> Evidence for the presence of maize (_Zea mays_, Poaceae) in
> India prior to traditional European contact is found in stone
> sculptures of maize ears in the 12th and 13th century (and
> earlier) Hoysala temples in southern India near Mysore. These
> "ears" present the morphology of maize in such intricate and
> specifically variable representations that it would have been
> impossible for sculptors to have imagined the variability
> consistently and realistically without large numbers of actual
> maize ears as models. No other natural model could supply this
> variability. We should search for other crops and cultural
> artifacts that would have diffused with maize across the
> oceans before 1492 AD.
>This just about says it all.
>I have read the article, and will now try to summarize the most
>interesting parts. (I'm aware that, because of holidays, many
>research libraries are closed, so many would be unable to check out
>refs for now.)
>The best parts for a layman are the photographs. Yes, this is the
>"Smoking Gun", no doubt about it... The stone carvings are
>_extremely intricate_ and realistic -- and well preserved. No
>mistake about it. Every little grain of corn is portrayed
>painstakingly. _Little doubt_ can remain that corn was definitely in
>India very early on!
>The article is quite technical for the most part. It mostly deals
>with the minutiae of precise identification. Authors spend very
>considerable space analyzing the portrayals of corn in these Indian
>sculptures. They actually isolated 23 (!) minute items of comparison
>the sculpted ears with the real-life ears of corn. Examples:
> ...the size and shape of "ears" in husks, partly husked or
> entirely dehusked; the proportional shapes of "kernels" that
> are normally wider than thick; the expansion of the "kernel"
> adjacent to the missing "kernel"; the smaller sized "kernels"
> at the tip; one tip with undeveloped, tiny "kernels" and the
> bottom four-fifth normal; the normality of parallel rows over
> tessellate row conditions or tessellate "kernels" at the base
> and parallel rows in the middle and tip of the "ear";... (p.
>These sorts of descriptions go on and on... But one picture is worth
>a thousand words... Take a look at these photos, you, the doubters
>out there! (In the future, I will try to scan some of these photos
>and to put them up on my webpage.)
> The sizes and shapes of "ears" and of incised "kernels", both
> in the overall form and in fine detail, suggest that maize was
> indeed the model for these stone carvings. (p. 164)
>[More details to come later.]
> =O= Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto =O=
> --- a webpage like any other... http://www.io.org/~yuku ---
>Diffusionist studies are not, as they are sometimes said to be,
>attempts to depreciate the creativity of peoples; rather they are
>efforts to locate and specify this creativity. D. Frazer,
>THEORETICAL ISSUES IN THE TRANS-PACIFIC CONTROVERSY, Social
>Research, 32 (1965) p. 454, as quoted by J. Needham.
Now the task becomes, showing some evidence that maize traveled across
the ocean. Because it just might be that this area in India is the
last place that Asian maize existed before it went extinct. To me this
seems more plausible.