[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale

Piotr Michalowski (piotrm@umich.edu) wrote:

: I have no expertise in this matter, but have been following this thread
of and : on.  I have one simple question that goes along with the above
statement.  If : corn (maize) were to have been introduced into the "Old
World" at such an : early date, would it not have spread rapidly and been
in wide use since, as it : did when it was definitely introduced after
Columbus & Co?  If such a thing : had happened, we certainly would have
evidence for widespread use of such a : plant, conspiracy or no--am I
correct in this assumption? 


Here's the relevant part of a post I made recently. It is clear that
early commentators were rather unwilling to credit Columbus with that


Subject:      [7]maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale
From:         [8]yuku@io.org (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1996/12/28


The story, as Jeffrey gives it, is that maize really came to Europe
from Asia before Columbus. So, here are the key quotes:

      Among the early botanists who were convinced of the Asiatic
      origin of maize were Ruellius, Fuchs, Bock, Tragus, and
      Dodoens. Some of these men were contemporaries of Columbus. To
      this list Mangelsdorf and Oliver (1951: 264) add Sismondi,
      Michana, Gregory, Loncier, Amoreux, Regnier, Viterbo, Doncier,
      Taberna-montanus, Bonafous, St. John de Turre, Daru, de
      Herbelot, and Klippart. Bertagnolli is another. (op. cit.

Well, what a list! (I just _had to_ type in all those names...)
Jeffreys (on p. 397) even quotes from the diaries of Leonardo da
Vinci to indicate that corn was a staple in Italy at that time, in
1495-97. Further on he says,

      Until 1570 all commentators on maize were agreed that it
      reached Europe via Asia. On this unanimity of opinion Finan
      (1950: 156) remarked: "For the first thirty years in which
      maize is discussed in the herbals, there is no mention that it
      had been brought in from America. [!!!] ... During this period
      the general opinion among the herbalists was that maize came
      to Europe from the Orient. It was not until 1570, with the
      herbal of Matthiolus (1570, p. 305) who had seen the text in
      Oviedo's GENERAL AND NATURAL HISTORY, that an American origin
      for maize is suggested." (p. 399)

In his article Jeffreys also gives plenty of linguistic evidence for
the antiquity of maize in Europe and Asia Minor. I will not get into
these arguments here.

So, here we go. What do we have here so far? Something strange for
sure... If we accept Jeffrey's evidence, it means that a _powerful
false myth_ was created in Europe about maize and its introduction
to the Old World post-Columbus. And if so, then some sort of an
explanation should be suggested for this, surely... How would have
this sort of a thing happened? After thinking long and hard, I would
say it's nothing less than the old _Eurocentrism_ that would lie at
the core of this. How so? Simple. The proud Europeans, the
"discoverers of America" could simply not face the reality of the
fact that someone else in the Old World, i.e. the Asians, had
"discovered" maize before them!

            =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

Follow-Ups: References: