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Re: Maize origins [was re: "Corn" in medieval Europe]
J. Emery writes, RE the discussion by Yuri Kuchinsky of Johannessen and
Parker, "Maize Ears Sculpted in 12th and 13th Century AD India as Indicators
of Pre-Columbian Diffusion", _Economic Botany_ 43(2) 1989 164-80,
>As far as the origin of maize goes, the work of John Doebly has already
>shown it to be descended from a central Mexican grass, teosinte. Maize and
>teosinte can be fertilly crossed. There are numerous differences between
>maize and teosinte, (teosinte is multi-branched, the kernels are enclosed in
>a hard shell, and there is only a single row of kernels in each cob). But
>the genes which confer some of these traits have been isolated (see
>references). This does not discount the possibility of maize being present
>in the old world before Columbus, but if it was, it was certainly brought
>there from the new world.
>[botanical details deleted]
>Dept. of Plant Pathology
This is precisely J&P's point -- if maize is accurately depicted in
pre-Columbian sculptures in India, there must have been some contact.
But _is_ maize what is being depicted? As a botanist, do you know of
anything else the photographs in their article could be depicting? Do
cucumbers or bananas have parallel rows of kernels, overlapping husks,
and/or silk? Pomegranates have been seriously suggested ...
Carl Johannessen is working on getting better color photos up on his U. Oregon
Geography Dept. web site. This may take several weeks, however, since
he is new at cybermatters. (He didn't even know he _had_ a web site until
Please note that I have added sci.bio.misc and sci.anthropology, since
they were included in the previous discussion.
-- Hu McCulloch
Ohio State U.