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Re: Testing Gourd Diffusion?

Peter van Rossum (pmv100@psu.edu) wrote:

: Yuri, If a plant can be transmitted by natural means I agree with you 
: that it doesn't necessarily mean that it was transmitted by natural 
: means. The problem becomes how does one prove how it was transmitted.  
: You claim that people haven't investigated the problem more because of 
: "academic lethargy and inertia."  I'm going to suggest to you that it 
: hasn't been investigated more because no one has come up with a useful 
: way of testing between the alternatives.  Without a useful test, there
: is no way of doing further research.

OK, Peter, this is what can be done.

1. Try to determine for sure when the African gourd arrived to America. In
order to do this, the following is relevant.

2. What sort of a gourd arrived? (Was it already a cultigen, or a
cultivar, or a wild plant?) Are there any wild African gourds growing in
America? Are there any cultigen gourds growing in the wild?

3. Do some genetic testing to determine _when_ the American bottle gourds
separated from the African bottle gourds. (Are you suggesting that the
great progress in genetics in the last few years has no relevance to
determining the history of bottle gourd in America?) Do all of the
American bottle gourds derive from the same primeval stock? Were there
multiple introductions or arrivals? I believe genetics can help to answer
these questions currently, or in the near future. 

Just some valid questions where more research would be useful...

:    "Now perhaps the reader understands why this book should have been
:    called 'Out of My Gourd.'"
:    (Heiser 1979:117)

Genetics has moved forward quite a lot since '79.

: Perhaps now you understand why more work has not been done.

Not really.

: There just
: doesn't seem to be a good way of testing between the alternatives.  If
: you can't propose a test then you have no right to complain that others
: haven't either.

So here I proposed some tests.

To add to this, very little has been done in Africa itself to trace the
evolution of the gourd there. We have little or no archaeological evidence
about the domestication of the gourd in Africa yet (though we know it was
domesticated there very early). Why? 


p.s.  Actually, the relevance of the gourd to this debate has now
diminished significantly in my eyes. This is because now I DO HAVE the
REAL "smoking gun" for trans-pacific diffusion. You guys complained
rightly that I did not cite the latest scientific literature on these
subjects. But you will most likely regret that you complained so loudly
about it... Because now I have some hot recent stuff. It relates to maize.
You will see this here soon. Our "American isolationists" may already
start to fear and tremble... 


            =O=    Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto    =O=
  --- a webpage like any other...  http://www.io.org/~yuku ---
It matters [whether Monte Alban ceramics reflect Chinese art forms]
because questions of human inventiveness and the nature of human
freedom are involved, and these are pivotal for the understanding of
humans everywhere.  D. Frazer, THEORETICAL ISSUES IN THE TRANS-
PACIFIC CONTROVERSY, Social Research, 32 (1965) p. 453, as quoted by
J. Needham.

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