Article 72 of 118 Subject: maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) Date: 1996/12/28 Newsgroups: sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology,bionet.general, sci.anthropology,sci.bio.misc,sci.agriculture,sci.bio.botany [follow-ups directed to: sci.archaeology,sci.anthropology,sci.bio.misc] Ladies and gentlemen, The story of maize is becoming ever more curious to me, the more I investigate this matter. Yes, I was aware for some time of maize being mentioned as an indicator of trans-oceanic contacts in early antiquity. But I didn't really investigate it in depth, as I was under the impression that the evidence for its antiquity in the Old World was mostly based on linguistic grounds. And by experience, I know that any theory based on linguistic evidence can be twisted and minimized in a hundred different ways... (Fortunately, currently we have much more than the linguistic evidence -- we have the photos!) Well, now I looked closely at the old research again. I will be basing this posting on the article PRE-COLUMBIAN MAIZE IN ASIA, by M. D. W. Jeffreys, in MAN ACROSS THE SEA, U. of Texas Press, 1971, quite a respectable source. What this material indicates is that the evidence for the antiquity of maize in the Old World is based on both genetic, as well as linguistic and historical research. This evidence appears to be very strong. (This article doesn't mention a word about the carvings of corn-cobs in ancient Indian temples, the subject that Carl Johannessen investigated recently.) The article shows conclusively that maize was present in Asia, AS WELL AS _in Europe_ before Columbus. Now, the latter should certainly give us pause. Indeed, if the Europeans seem to be so confused about whether or not maize was known in Europe before Columbus, what hope is there for the Europeans to determine if maize was present in ancient China?! Or in India!? Think again about this... (Of course I refer here only to the arguments based on the linguistic and the historical evidence. Archaeology should have been able to provide definitive "hard proof" on this, but such has not been provided yet, apparently.) In any case, the evidence for pre-Columbian _European_ corn is what impresses me most in this article now. Indeed, what we seem to have discovered here is a whole process of a _construction_ of a big "modern myth" of "Columbus Bringing Back the Corn to Europe and the World"! How's this for amazing? 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. p.399) 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! Not only that. The proud Europeans could not probably face the fact that the Asians could have had any links with America -- without the proud and mighty Europeans coming around to Asia first and _then_ linking Asia with America! So this is how it looks to me... Strange and amazing this "story of maize"... [continued in the next posting] Best regards, Yuri. =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 LoyolaClick here to go one level up in the directory.