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Re: maize in ancient India: transpacific links (cont.)

Paul J. Gans (gans@scholar.nyu.edu) wrote:

: The difficulties with the trans-pacific maize theory are obvious.
: If it was, in fact, introduced and used with sufficient frequency
: to be *abundant* in temple carvings, there should be ample evidence
: of it in the archaeological record.

So it should, Paul. And? 

Did the critics of Johannessen who published their criticisms try to
disprove Johannessen by an appeal to the archaeological record? No. Why
not if it _really_ shows so clearly that maize was not a staple at the
time? My guess is that the evidence one way or the other is lacking. More
studies need to be done in this area. 

Before my critics jump in again with their questionable "exercises in
logical methodology", and try to say that "you cannot disprove anything",
and other such half-baked ideas -- I'll say that it should be, and is,
given that an effort is made in this direction, VERY SIMPLE to determine
which were the staple crops in any given area at any given time. If these
staples for the relevant areas do not include maize -- then Johannessen is
disproven. Or, at least, his thesis is weakened significantly. Let's try
some real logic for a change... 

: Furthermore, if such a popular food, popular enough to be memorialized
: in temple carvings, was to have disappered in such a disaster, one
: *might* think that some written record of it would exist.  After
: all, the Indians were quite literate...

The problem of interpreting written evidence is that the question usually
comes up, What was the word for maize at that time and in that area? As
the conventional and mainstream view up to this time has been that maize
couldn't have possibly been attested in the written records, the
dictionaries dealing with the written records were compiled with this
conventional view in mind. 

This is the problem that also often came up in interpreting the written
records of the first European colonizers in Asia. Jeffreys' article in MAN
ACROSS THE SEA attempts to deal with this in detail. He claimed to prove
that the first Portuguese colonizers in India recorded maize as an
existing staple crop there. I think his case is very strong. But the
argument bogs down usually in, But did this Portuguese word really mean
maize at that time?