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Re: maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale

Hu McCulloch (hmccullo@ecolan.sbs.ohio-state.edu) wrote:

: I agree here with Doug, to the extent that Yuri is going overboard
: to insist that it was the Americans who brought the maize depicted
: in the Hoysala sculptures to India. 

Gee, thanks, Hu! <grin>

: The Mayans, Incans, etc, surely 
: had some sort of boats, but my perhaps merely uninformed preconception
: of them is that they weren't particularly maritime.

Well, I looked into this, i. e. ancient navigation tradition in America. 
The basic facts are: precolumbian sailing craft in Peru and elsewhere was
basically very similar to Asian craft. 

So why is it such a big deal if it was the Asians who came and borrowed
maize, or if the Americans went to Asia and gave them maize? The basic
situation was, it seems, that Asians and Americans had links and shared
certain cultural traits. This is the important part, and this is what I
believe was happening.

: My bet would be that it was Hindu traders who brought maize back from
the : new world.  In the 1st millenium AD, the Indians brought : their
religions to Indonesia and SE asia, traded with China, etc., so : it
wouldn't be unthinkable for them to have ventured on across the : Pacific. 
Maya expert Michael Coe (interview in Americas, a publication of the : 
Organization of American States, Jan/Feb 1996) has no problems, on other :
grounds, thinking that there might be "real connections" that are not just
: independent convergence, between the Maya and Bali.  "The : resemblances
between SE Asia and Mesoamerica are extraordinary..." 

This is quite relevant.

: Another possibility that shouldn't be overlooked is Africa.  There is :
some literature on pre-Columbian maize in Africa (sorry, I don't have :
the page reference or title, but it's somewhere in Fingerhut's recent book
on : diffusion).

Yes, such literature exists. See Van Sertima 1976:264-67.

: Perhaps Africans, a la Van Sertima, brought maize back across
: the Atlantic,

This was maintained also by Jeffreys. They were talking about Ife Ife, a
former Yoruba capital. Pre-Columbus pavement at that site, made from
broken potsherds, seems to indicate maize imprints. 

: and then the Hindus picked it up from them, either directly 
: or via Arabs. 

Hu, you seem to be following Jeffreys' analysis here. He believed that
maize came to India through Arabs.

: Mocha was a big Arabian seaport (home of Mocha Chip Ice 
: Cream! :-), and in India, maize is today called, roughly, Mocha Sorghum.
: (makke-jola in Kannada, makka in Hindi, mokka jonna in Telegu, makaa or 
: makkai in Northern India, mecca cholam in Tamil, etc.)  Some 
: people read Mecca into makka, but Mecca, unlike Mocha, was not a 
: seaport or trading center.  

I'm aware of these theories, but I really don't know how persuasive they
are. In my experience, anything that is based on linguistic analysis will
fail to persuade the doubters. Perhaps it is a general rule with
archaeologists to minimize anything not based on something that they
can poke with their fingers? 

I think maize may well have diffused to Africa _and_ to India
independently. I'm doubtful that maize was brought to India by Arabs, as
per Jeffreys.

Also, you should consider that we have very good evidence for sweet potato
diffusing across the Pacific to Asia. This would certainly support
trans-Pacific maize diffusion.

: Jola, jonna, jaun, etc,  mean sorghum, whose 
: plant looks a little like a maize plant. The photos of sorghum seed heads
: I have seen look nothing like the Hoysala corncob sculptures depicted in 
: Johannessen's photos in Economic Botany (1989, 164-80), however. 

: BTW, I spoke with Johannessen this morning, and he seems amenable
: to putting some of his color photos on a web site, perhaps with Yuri's 
: help.  He's a newbie to the internet, however, and so this may take some
: time.

Who knows, perhaps Carl would like to answer some of his critics here
himself? I'm sure he will do a much better job of this than we ever can...



            =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