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Re: maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale

In article <5a457u$4rp@news1.io.org> yuku@io.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) writes:
>Well, now I looked closely at the old research again. 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,
>quite a respectable source. What this material indicates is that the
>evidence for the antiquity of maize in the Old World is based on
>both genetic, as well as linguistic and historical research. This
>evidence appears to be very strong. (This article doesn't mention a
>word about the carvings of corn-cobs in ancient Indian temples, the
>subject that Carl Johannessen investigated recently.)

[lots of deletions.]


Yuri, there is an alternate explanation for all these early references to
"maize" in the Old World.  Let me quote you from the most informative book 
on plant origins and their spread, "Historical Geography of Crop Plants:
A Select Roster."  This book is just chock full of all kinds of great
information on the origins and dispersals of a whole range of Old and 
New World plants.  And we can be sure that this information is of only
the highest caliber because it was written by that world-renowned plant
geographer, Jonathan D. Sauer.  Dr. Sauer is in my estimation in the
best position to speak on plant origins because not only is he a plant
geographer, but his father (Carl Sauer) was as well!  And we can
be sure that the work of Carl Sauer is so wonderful because it has been
extensively cited by even the highest caliber of academicians - people
like Joseph Campbell, George Carter, and Joseph Needham.  And golly
if Carl Sauer's work was so great as to be cited by even those luminaries
its hard to even imagine just what a fabulous scholar Jonathan Sauer must

Now while Dr. Sauer gives lots of incredibly detailed and meticulous 
analysis of maize (stuff only a few experts really understand), he does
say this of maize as well:

  The possibility of Pre-Columbian presence of maize in various
  regions of the Old World was actively debated during the 1960s
  and 1970s.  Historical evidence was drawn from early reports now
  generally interpreted as references to GRAIN SORGHUM.  Archaeological
  remains were reported only from 15th century India, but the dating
  is questionable.  New evidence has been drawn from stone carvings
  in 12th and 13th century temples in southern India that depict
  objects resembling maize ears (Johannessen & Parker 1989).  The
  resemblances are intriguing but other possible models have been
  suggested, including Pandanus fruits.  Moreover, the carvings may
  not be as old as the temples.  If maize was really present, direct
  archaeological evidence should exist; the cobs are unmistakeable,
  radiocarbon datable, and nearly indestructible in a dry site."
  (p. 232)

Well you can claim that those early references are to maize but the
eminent plant geographer Jonathan Sauer clearly prefers the interpretation
that they are of grain sorghum.  And I trust Jonathan Sauer, cause he's
really such a wonderful author that I could never even think (not even
in my wildest dreams) that he would ever say anything if it wasn't
100% true.

Sincerest regards and warm holiday greetings,

Peter van Rossum

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