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Re: maize in ancient india: strong transpacific links are indicated

Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
> 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 appear
> 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 old shotgun approach.  If I scatter enough shot one may 
hit a target or if someone can produce such blinding snowstorms of data
he must have a point.

> 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...

Interesting definition of "Smoking Gun;" no hypotheses needed and
no testing required.

> Carl L. Johannessen and Anne Z. Parker, MAIZE EARS SCULPTURED IN
> 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.

Says all what?  It's an abstract.  It presents summary statements; no 
evidence or hypotheses.

> I have read the article, and will now try to summarize the most
> interesting parts. (I'm aware that, because of holidays, many University
> research libraries are closed, so many would be unable to check out these
> 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!

Hmm, from this we can deduce several working hypotheses:  
India was settled in the 12th and 13th century by migratory 
peoples from the Americas, India was settled in the 12th and 
13th century by migratory ears of corn from the Americas,  India was 
was settled in the 12th and 13th century by migratory Redenbockers, 
or India was settled in the in the 12th and 13th century by clever 
pieces of rock sculpted to resemble maize.  

How would we test to discriminate among these (and why bother,
it might disrupt our atheoretical particularism)?  Hmm, maybe look 
for real plants instead of sculpted (nah, sculptors *never* have 
a vivid imagination, all of them six-armed Indian gods sure are 
realistic; they must have been the ones that transported the maize--Oh
no, another hypothesis to consider) or maybe look for the actual 
maize grains or large amounts of maize pollen (why bother, we have
sculpted corn; let them eat rock).

> 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 of
> the sculpted ears with the real-life ears of corn. Examples:

Yuri, it's amazing what you *don't* specify.  How many minute items
of difference (!!) did they isolate?  Did they even look for 
differences?  Were statistical evaluations (like cluster analysis) 
performed to assess the similarities between the sculptures and 
real maize?  How many of these scuptures are there?   How many 
rows of kernals?  Which type of maize do they resemble?  Size of 
ears and grains?  And especially, how were they dated?


August Matthusen

"'Theory' tends to be used to mean 'notion.'  The statement
'I have a theory that the world is flat' asks for the question
'How interesting--what is your theory?'  But cult archaeologists
miss or ignore this distinction between assertion and theory, 
being content with particulars out of context."   John R. Cole, 1980,  
"Cult Archaeology and Unscientific Method and Theory," _Advances 
in Archaeological Method and Theory_, Vol 3, pages 5-6

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