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Re: Maize origins [was re: "Corn" in medieval Europe]
Yuri Kuchinsky had written,
>> I will be basing this posting on the article PRE-COLUMBIAN MAIZE IN ASIA,
>> by M. D. W. Jeffreys, in MAN ACROSS THE SEA, U. of Texas Press, 1971. What
>> this material indicates is that the evidence for the antiquity of maize in
>> the Old World is based on genetic, as well as linguistic and historical
>> research. This evidence appears to be very strong.
>> The story, as Jeffrey gives it, is that maize really came to Europe
>> from Asia before Columbus. So, here are the key quotes:
>> Among the early botanists who were convinced of the Asiatic
>> origin of maize were Ruellius, Fuchs, Bock, Tragus, and
>> Dodoens. Some of these men were contemporaries of Columbus. To
>> this list Mangelsdorf and Oliver (1951: 264) add Sismondi,
>> Michana, Gregory, Loncier, Amoreux, Regnier, Viterbo, Doncier,
>> Taberna-montanus, Bonafous, St. John de Turre, Daru, de
>> Herbelot, and Klippart. Bertagnolli is another. (op. cit.
>> This is quite a list! Jeffreys (on p. 397) even quotes from the diaries of
>> Leonardo da Vinci to indicate that corn was a staple in Italy at that
>> time, in 1495-97.
August Matthusen replied,
>This seems to post-date the early voyages of Columbus.
Yes, but not by much. Columbus returned from his first voyage in 1493, so
this gives it only 2-4 years to have spread to Italy where, as we have seen,
maize is called granturco, the "Turkish grain".
However, what Leonardo
actually said (according to Jeffreys) was "... ducati 2 -- fave -- melica
biaca -- melica rossa -- panica -- miglio -- figiuoli -- fave -- pisegli."
L's translator, Richter, renders this as "2 ducats, beans, white maize,
red maize, millet, buckwheat, kidney beans, beans, peas." Jeffreys
thinks this is reasonable, since maize comes in colors, and since
melica, which might be thought to refer to millet or buckwheat, cannot
mean either of these here, since they are pre-empted by panica and miglio.
This is a rather close call. I would prefer to see a nice maize plant in
a Turkish or Persian herbal of the 14th or 15th century. Does anyone
know about such sources?
>> Further on he says,
>> Until 1570 all commentators on maize were agreed that it
>> reached Europe via Asia. On this unanimity of opinion Finan
>> (1950: 156) remarked: "For the first thirty years in which
>> maize is discussed in the herbals, there is no mention that it
>> had been brought in from America. [!!!] ... During this period
>> the general opinion among the herbalists was that maize came
>> to Europe from the Orient. It was not until 1570, with the
>> herbal of Matthiolus (1570, p. 305) who had seen the text in
>> Oviedo's GENERAL AND NATURAL HISTORY, that an American origin
>> for maize is suggested." (p. 399)
>If I remember correctly, Columbus died believing and avowing he had
>discovered a route to the Orient or India. If he brought back
>plants, why wouldn't people believe the plants had come from the
>Orient or India until they learned better?
Columbus never though he was in Turkey, so this cannot explain why
all maize was believed to have come from Turkey prior to 1570, as
Finan established. See my post on this thread several days ago.
John J. Finan's little 1950 booklet _Maize in the Great
Herbals_, incidentally, first appeared as an article in the _Annals of the
Missouri Botanical Garden_, vol. 35, 1948, pp. 149-191. This is perhaps
more likely to be in a university library than Finan's booklet itself.
-- Hu McCulloch
Ohio State U