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Re: maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale

Randal Allison (rallison@mail.myriad.net) wrote:
: yuku@io.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) wrote:

: >Also, please note that none of the criticisms seen here so far _even
: >mentioned_ the main supporting evidence for Johannessen besides the
: >carvings. And that is, of course, the OVERWHELMING evidence for a _great
: >genetic variety_ of maize in India, and in Asia generally! (This strongly
: >indicates antiquity.) A pattern of avoidance? 

: A pattern of avoidance from you, Yuri?? I went back through your posts 
: citing the Johannessen article, and I could not find any OVERWHELMING 
: evidence for a _great genetic variety_ of maize in India, or in Asia 
: generally! What sources are you referring to here? Any three botanists, 
: agronomists, archaeologists, &c. would suffice, if they have evidence, not 
: supposition, that there was maize from New World origins in India and Asia 
: prior to the 15th Century. Maize is an incredibly hardy little beggar, and 
: its presence in the floral assemlage of a site, especially if its was a 
: part of the diet, is virtually impossible to miss.


I'm glad you picked up on this important matter. Indeed, what about this
great genetic variety? You may have pointed to a possible weakness in
Johannessen's presentation. Of course he was limited in the issues he
could bring up by the editorial format of his article (the space was
limited). But he could have probably paid more attention to this matter of
genetic variety to strengthen his case. 

Meanwhile, I don't see how you missed this part of my posting that you
said you read:


From: yuku@io.org (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Subject: maize in ancient India: transpacific links (cont.)
Date: 27 Dec 1996 20:51:06 GMT

The authors mention briefly the very interesting variety of corn
found in the Sikkim area in the Himalayas. 
      In the remote valleys in the Himalayas such as Tashigang in
      Bhutan and Ilam in eastern Nepal, we find primitive popcorns
      with seven to nine ears per stem, all concentrated in the
      upper 20% of the stem. Similar "Sikkim primitive" popcorn was
      also recorded ... [elsewhere in Sikkim] ... [and] in
      northeastern India. These stems have distinctive arrangements
      of leaves and ear locations and tassels that droop in a form
      not typical for American maize. (p. 177)
The varieties of corn in India and in China are often quite unlike
the ones found in the Americas. In particular, besides the "Sikkim
primitive", the authors mention the "conical" corn with a "somewhat
pregnant shape like the Mysore carvings" (in Bhutan, p. 177). Such
variety is normally a sign of ancient speciation. Also, the waxy 
starch maize is found widely in Asia,
      Waxy starch maize is widespread in Asia from Manchuria and
      Korea to Burma and Assam, but rare in ancient America. This is
      a sticky starch. Professor You Xiuling of Hangzhou (pers.
      comm.) has stated that waxy-starched maize in China has a
      significantly distinctive isozyme distribution that is very
      different from New World maize isozymes. How far these new
      isozyme patterns extend into Southeast Asia and Subcontinent
      India has not yet been thoroughly explored, but Sachan et al.
      (1982) and Sachan and Sarkar (1986a,b) found that the multi-
      eared Sikkim primitive popcorn exhibits a distinct
      constitutive heterochromatic phenomenon similar to that found
      in South American maizes. Therefore, some ancient maizes have
      likely existed in Asia for a long time. (p. 177)
So, great genetic variation of maize in India is an additional
strong indicator of its antiquity there.

[end quote]

You see it now, Randy? I don't have the article with me right now, but I'm
sure more refs for this research may be found there.

Now, also, I'm curious about this passage in Johannessen's article:

[quote again]
      Finally, we should admit that only a few geographers,
      ethnobotanists, and anthropologists believe that maize was
      present in India before Columbus. Most researchers in these
      sciences have not seen the temples and the extensive
      representations of maize nor have they seen the variability of
      maize in the Americas; they are probably unaware of the
      evidence. (p. 176)
[end quote]

You know, I really think that there _may be_ a misprint of some sort
above. Johannessen probably meant to say "... variability of maize _in
Asia_", rather than "...variability of maize in the Americas"? Otherwise,
why would the "researchers in these sciences" be unaware of American
variability? Hmm... I think this is quite puzzling... I wonder if the
journal published a correction? If this was an error, it would have been a
very significant error!

Anyhow, among my postings (in a summary of the article in MAN ACROSS THE
SEA) you will also find quotes from the noted Russian botanist Kuleshov,
where he was sure as sure can be, on the basis of genetic evidence alone,
in 1928, that corn was ancient in India. (Soon you will see the remainder
of my summary of that article in these ngs.) 

Meanwhile, I've found some more refs in MAN ACROSS THE SEA (1971, U OF
Texas Press, Carrol L. Riley, et al, eds.) that deal with this issue

M. D. W. Jeffreys, the author of this article, PRE-COLUMBIAN MAIZE IN
ASIA, talks also about the important work of Vavilov in this area. Also,
they mention a botanist named Collins who did field research in Indian

This ref is also included:

Kidd, H. J., and H. C. Reynolds, trans., 1954, "KULESHOV'S "SOME
PECULIARITIES OF MAIZE IN ASIA"" _Ann. Missouri Botanical Garden_, vol. 
41, no. 3.

Best regards,


            =O=    Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto    =O=
  --- a webpage like any other...  http://www.io.org/~yuku ---
We should always be disposed to believe that that which 
appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the 
Church so decides       ===      St. Ignatius of Loyola