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Re: Yuri's smoking guns (was: Testing Gourd Diffusion?

geoff@argo.math.ucla.edu.mathnet wrote:

: sci.archaeology discussed maize in 1994. I was reading it more regularly
then, : and posted in a thread involving Hu McCulloch, myself, Jim
Allison, Sandy Dunavan, and probably others. Here's that old post, with
remarks made since posting [[enclosed like this]]. Paul Mangelsdorf's book
: Corn: its origin, evolution, and improvement [by] Paul C. Mangelsdorf. 
Cambridge, Mass., Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1974.  : is a
lot more interesting than the maize diffusion proposal, which was : not
ignored, but was killed dead. 


Thank you for posting excerpts from that old discussion.

I beg to disagree with you. Few of the arguments you provide contra
Johannessen seem truly persuasive to me. 

I would also like to ask you why _not a word_ was said in the following
discussion about the most persuasive supporting evidence for Johannessen,
i.e. about the great genetic variability of maize in Asia that indicates 
antiquity. One should think that this is where one would look further to
strengthen Johannessen's arguments.

I will comment, point by point, on the material you provide, although the
attributions are not always clear. 

:  It's interesting to read that the molecular biologists are disputing
whether the evidence : for Polynesian human DNA in the DNA of Ecuadorians
is convincing, but the horse this : thread is beating is long dead. 

Alive and well. As to DNA, I've looked into this, and it doesn't seem like
this research can provide many clear answers at this point.

: Comments on Johannesen and Parker.

: Like Jim Allison, I was not convinced that the sculptures in fact
represented maize, although that's not out of the question. I think there
are some flaws : in the reply by Payak and Sachan as well [[this refers to
comment 5]] : A few comments: 


: 2. See figure 1 of : Payak, M. M. and J. K. S. Sachan. Maize in
Somnathpur, an Indian mediaeval temple. Nature 335, 773-774.  : By no
stretch of the imagination is the object in the male deity's right hand a
half husked corn ear. Note that in this picture, the rows are horizontal
instead of vertical. Payak-Sachan say they looked at many friezes

There are GREAT MANY CARVINGS in these and other temples. You found ONE
that doesn't look like corn? So what?

: 3.Hu McCulloch:  : **** : In particular, they note that the kernel
arrangements : sometimes actually have parallel rows paired in such a way
that rows 1&2, : 3&4, 5&6 etc will be shoulder-to-shoulder while rows 2&3,
4&5 etc will be : offset 1/2 kernel.  This is caused by the pairing of the
kernels in their : attachment to the cob, and is unique to maize.  JP note
that Mangelsdorf used : this trait "as a specific key-identifying
characteristic of maize in : archaeological representations in clay
figures in Mexico." : attachment to the cob, and is unique to maize. : 

This was an important and persuasive argument by Hu.

: To me it seems that the eye of faith is needed to see this arrangement
in : figs. 3, 4, 6-9. 

To me, the blindness of faith is needed not to see a lot of these

: 4. In figs. 15 and 16 the authors see a tassel of silk. Although this
_could_ : be a stylized piece of silk, it's far from being clear. 

Only one of many pieces of evidence.

: 5.On the other hand, I don't think Payak and Sachan are to be relied
upon when :  they say that "maize cultivation in the Karnataka commenced
in the mid-1960's".  : (Quotation from their _Nature_ article.)  

Just one of their errors, it seems.

:  Jeffreys argued about preColumbian maize in Africa and India in many
articles, : and his claims that the words for maize in the languages of
the Deccan meant : Mecca sorghum were not challenged. 

Here, I would like to say a few words about Jeffreys' thesis. He believes
that corn came to India from Turkey. I disagree about this; I already
commented about it in one of my previous posts. Johannessen's thesis, on
the other hand, seems to point to a direct introduction of corn to India
from the Pacific area. I side with Johannessen. I believe that Jeffreys's
theory about the Turkish introduction has obscured the other important
evidence his article contains about the antiquity of corn in India and in
the Old World. His article lost some weight because of this. 

: 6. Hu McCulloch:  : >is mokka jola or something similar -- makka,
makkai, etc jola or jona, ie : >"mokka" sorghum.  Jeffries in Man across
the Sea concluded that this is "Mecca : >sorghum" ie "sorghum" introduced
by the Arabs. But Mecca is not a big seaport, : Agreed. 

Here is an example of how the argument got sidetracked, unnecessarily,
IMO, to the Turkish introduction debate. 

: >If the word is Arabic, the : >seaport of Mocha (: home of Mocha chip
ice cream :) is a better contender.  : Wouldn't it be a better idea to
find out what the word means in Tamil, Kannada, : etc. instead of making a
wild guess ? If you don't rely on Jeffreys's informant, : it's not as
though it's hard to find an English-Kannada dictionary. 

And again.

: 7.  : >PS argue that Hoysala maize couldn't have been the origin of
traditional : >Tibetan and other mountain varieties, because there was
absolutely no contact : >between the south and the north of India in the
13th century or before.  :  >Sounds unlikely to me. 

Another significant error of our critics.

: Me too. One theory (Laufer) has it that maize was introduced to India by
the : Portuguese and diffused through Assam and Burma and/or Tibet in
order to get : to China.

This sounds completely wrong. I don't think the time when the Portuguese
got to India, and the time when they got to China are sufficiently far
apart for this scenario to be valid.

: This would account for the Chinese traditions of
maize being introduced from the west as opposed to the other possibility
of introduction : by seaborne trade.  [[ N.B. tradition is notoriously

Chinese tradition says it came from the west a long time ago. This
squares well with an introduction from India a long time ago. Let's just
take it for what it is... 

: 8. There is no accepted instance of archaeological maize or maize pollen
in Asia.

But, pre-Columbian maize pollen HAS BEEN FOUND in India -- as per
Johannessen in ECONOMIC BOTANY!

: This precludes maize reaching Asia long before Columbus, as
Sdunavan pointed out, but as far as I can see does not preclude maize
reaching Asia say in 1300 or 1400 AD.  : I'm underwhelmed by Jeffreys's
article PreColumbian maize in Asia in Man across : the Sea,

It may have been weakened by his Turkish introduction theory.

: and especially by the linguistic aspects of his article,


: but it's reasonable to regard the question of preColumbian maize in
Africa and Asia : as unsettled. 

At the very least!

: [[Well, no. The diffusionist proposal of preColumbian maize was : silly
and unsupported, _and now that flotation is widely used the idea is : 
absurd_, as Sandy Dunavan pointed out later in the thread.]]

I have no idea what you -- or whoever -- meant by the above. Perhaps you
can clarify? 

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