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Re: maize in Europe, India before Columbus (cont.)
THE STRANGE STORY OF MAIZE IN THE OLD WORLD
[continued from the previous post]
>And now, to continue with Jeffreys. He gives in his article plenty
>of evidence for the antiquity of maize in India, in China, and in
>the Philippines. Persuasive evidence, it seems to me. Here are the
>quotes he gives from the Russian botanist N. N. Kuleshov who
>published his work in 1928 (translated into English in 1954),
> ...we arrived at the conclusion that in the maizes of Asia we
> have observed an array of characters and peculiarities which
> are unknown in America, or which are extremely rare in
> America. (p. 380)
Yup. Odd that Jeffreys used Kuleshov's 1928 work when he had the work of
the foremost authority on corn in the world (at the time of his --
Jeffreys' -- writing) Paul Mangelsdorf. Mangelsdorf also had the benefit
of a greater data base and an understanding of genetics based upon DNA
(not known until the 50's, remember? After Kuleshov wrote.).
The reference here is to the "waxy endosperm" varieties of corn present in
Asia. And indeed, Mangelsdorf says of it ;
"Varieties of corn pure for waxy endosperm are unknown among the races
of maize in America -- (Mangelsdorf 1971:143)"
But, he continues: . . .
"-- but the waxy character itself has been discovered in non-waxy
varieties: in a New England flint corn (Mangelsdorf, 1924) and in a South
American variety (Breggar, 1928). Bear (1944) reports that waxy
endosperm is not an uncommon mutant in Corn Belt dent varieties, he
having found three separate mutations to waxy in three consecutive years
in a total population of some 100,000 selfed ears.
"The fact that waxy maize occurs so commonly in a part of the world that
also posses waxy varieties of rice, sorghum, and millet can be
attributed to artificial selection (Mangelsdorf 143)."
It's silly to treat a cultivated plant as if it changes at the same rate
as a naturally evolving one. I breed corn varieties as a hobby in my own
garden -- I have a sweet corn I created by saving the one or two
"shriveled" (that's how you know it is sweet) kernels I found on cobs of
green Oaxacan dent corn I grew. After three years of this, I can now grow
a small field of green-colored sweet corn. This did not exist as a "pure
variety" in my original stock, but as a minority trait. I selected for
it. People do that with crops. Four hundred years is plenty long enough
to breed for a desired characteristic.
In chapter 17, Mangelsdorf reviews the botanical evidence for
pre-Columbian maize in Asia and Europe and finds it more than wanting --
most especially the claims that Asian corns simply had features not
existing in America, as Jeffreys claims. He takes these claims
individually and dissolves them.
Note that Mangelsdorf was not an anthropologist or an archaeologist, but a
plant systemist and a botanist.
> Kuleshov reviewed the work of Vavilov and concluded that "the
> striking facts ... inevitably lead to the idea that Asian
> maize, if it be not viewed as native,
Yep. What Kuleshov is alluding to here is that many of his contemporaries
thought corn ORIGINATED in Asia and spread to America (And its clear here
that he considers it a possibility). This is sort of an indication of how
far off base they were.
>at any rate is very
> ancient. These characteristics which are seen in Asiatic maize
> attest to this explanation... [I omit the technical details]
>Further, Jeffreys says,
> Kuleshov stated the crux as he saw it: "Now concerning the
> time interval in question, one must understand when and how
> maize could have removed from America into this isolated wild
> land [he is speaking here about a remote area in "Upper
> Burmah" where he thought the origins of some specific Asian
> breeds of maize may be found], given there a mutation, and as
> a mutant diffused from the Philippines to Manchuria." He
> offered a tentative solution: "... as a conjecture we should
> suppose that likely there was an earlier cultivation of maize
> in Asia than the time of the first landing by the Portuguese
> on the shores of Asia in 1516.... The facts, which were
established by us, return us anew to this supposition and this
time with a great deal of conviction" (ibid.)
Dealt with -- this is a common enough mutation in corn and a minority
trait in varieties spread widely across the New World. If this doesn't
satisfy, I can certainly continue. When I get back to the University
next week I'll dig the more modern sources (I own Mangelsdorf's book, as
it is a standard text on the subject).
>Now, Jeffreys' article contains much more about maize in ancient
>Asia, but it must wait for a further opportunity for me to continue
>with this synopsis. I will make another post about this later.
>Of course Jeffreys wrote this article nearly 30 years ago.
And his source that you quote for this argument is much older than that.
> Much has
>been done since then to further this story of maize.
> I must say at
>this point that Jeffreys, on the basis of his locating maize very
>early in Asia Minor, in Turkey, comes to the conclusion that maize
>came there from America very early pre-Columbus across the Atlantic,
>and then spread to Asia and to Europe.
Actually, Jeffreys first argued for an African-American connection through
an Arab-Negro trade route (Jeffreys 1953, PRE-COLUMBIAN NEGROS IN
AMERICA)) which he thought started around 900 AD or so. He didn't prove
that one either, but by golly, he knew SOMETHING must have diffused
SOMEWHERE, so he just kept on going. I'm happy for you that you can use
his "evidence" for one diffusion for your own, other, different diffusion.
It's good to have a nice, flexible argument.
> I disagree with him on this,
>but will not state my opinion on this strongly -- perhaps the
>question may allow for different interpretations, and, in any case,
>this part of his argument is not crucial for me. Myself, I think,
>including of the basis of the recent research by Johannessen,
I haven't forgotten this, but I've been away.
>India and America were linked very early by travellers across the
>Pacific. Much evidence exists for this -- independent of the maize.
>For instance, the strong indicators that Mesoamerican calendars and
>day names are linked with the Indian calendars and zodiacs. On this,
>the work of David H. Kelley is extremely instructive. See, for
>instance, his DECIPHERING THE MAYAN SCRIPT, 1976, Austin.
Well, maybe another thread for calendars and the script. But I will append
to this another note by Mangelsdorf. He was here responding to Carter
(our old friend from the Asian-American chicken) (Carter 1950: "Plant
Evidence for Early Contacts with America" in Southwest J. of Anthropology
6) who, while admitting that the case for pre-Columbian maize (in Asia)
might not be as strong as it could be,t once you linked it with the
possibility of a pre-Columbian exchange of COTTON it became really
convincing evidence. Mangelsdorf responded:
" In the joint article with Oliver, I challenged the hypothesis on
genetic and botanical grounds, concluding that 'the case for the
trans-Pacific, pre-Columbian diffusion of Old World cultivated cottons
is no better, in our opinion, than the case for an Asiatic origin or
pre-Columbian diffusion of maize. To use the one as evidence to support
the other, is to assume that two guesses have, through some strange
alchemy, a greater validity than one (Mangelsdorf 1971:203).'"
>But one thing that Jeffreys makes perfectly clear is, Maize was in
>the Old World way before the "discovery of America" by the
He certainly believed this, as you do. He does not prove it.