Article 117 of 118 Subject: Old World maize: a twisted tale From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Kuchinsky) Date: 1996/12/30 Newsgroups: sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology, bionet.general,sci.anthropology,sci.bio.misc,sci.agriculture,sci.bio.botany [follow-ups are limited to: sci.archaeology,sci.anthropology,sci.bio.misc] [Part 4 of 4] [This is the conclusion of the previous postings based on the article PRE-COLUMBIAN MAIZE IN ASIA, by M. D. W. Jeffreys, in MAN ACROSS THE SEA, U. of Texas Press, 1971, Carrol L. Riley et al., eds.] Jeffreys doesn't really spend much time on discussing the important botanical evidence for the antiquity of maize in India. This probably weakened the impact of his argument somewhat. (Nevertheless, he quoted from the Russian botanist Kuleshov who was sure as sure can be that maize was ancient in India; I have given those quotes already in an earlier post.) And yet, it is precisely this botanical evidence on the great genetic variety of maize in Asia that seems the most persuasive to me. You don't need to worry about the accuracy of the eyewitnesses, you don't need to engage in linguistic disputations -- the plants are still there, and anyone can go and see them for themselves, and test them. Genetics has moved so far recently that, soon, if not already, it alone can provide the sufficient and verifiable truth about the story of maize as it was, it seems to me. And now, let's conclude with the evidence coming from some archaeologists. Vishnu-Mittre, (1966: 155) describing carbonized food grains and their impressions on potsherds from Kaundinyapar, an archaeological site in Madhya Pradesh, north India, wrote that "the evidence of maize in India is not in any case later than 1435 AD.... and tends to establish its pre-Columbian age". (p. 382) Vishnu-Mittre and Gupta (1966: 176, 184) ... concluded [in their study of pollen grains] that "...it may be said that the maize cultivation in Kashmir began in the 13th-14th century." (ibid.) Jeffreys adds, Maize cultivation did not start in Kashmir, and therefore it must have been cultivated elsewhere in Asia earlier still. (ibid.) Well, much more information is available in Jeffreys' article. I only included small bits and pieces of the information he assembled. *** Perhaps it's now time to think of the implications and the meaning of this investigation. I believe maize was ancient in the Old World. One can argue about the chronology and the particulars of its introduction from America, sure, and we don't yet have all the information that can still be found to clarify these matters. But what if the case is proven? What would it mean? Well, the implications go far indeed. They go as far even as to cast doubt on the whole story of maize as we know it -- not just in Asia, but everywhere in the Old World, including in Europe! Let us ask, Is it possible that such a thing could have been distorted so? Is it possible that the Europeans could have created such a powerful false myth of "Columbus Bringing Maize to the World" -- out of the thin air? Well, perhaps there's a way to escape from the maximalism of such a claim. One obvious thought that comes to me is that Columbus may have brought from America a _more productive breed of maize_. The breeds that existed in the Old World previously _may have been_ archaic and inferior -- similar to the "primitive corn" still found in Asia. This is one possibility. But, on the whole, with the evidence before me, I certainly think that a false myth that I refer to _could have been_ constructed. This is the inevitable product of the Eurocentrism that seems only too obvious in the very revealing replies of some posters who already contributed their "words of wisdom", and of immeasurable sarcasm and mockery to these threads. Look at their strange anger and spleen. Look at them jeer and cheer... How absurd that those Asians could have had maize without the "enlightened" and "mighty" Europeans showing them the way! That those Asians may have -- to the contrary -- shown _the Europeans_ the way? How absurd is it that those ancient Americans may have been able to navigate oceans thousands of years ago?! Impossible, the mockers sneer... What are the real roots of that mockery, of such self-assurance, of this overweening certainty that these individuals demonstrate? If you ask me, this attitude comes pretty close to the very same attitude that created Western colonialism -- and the incredible exploitation of the native peoples around the world in not so ancient history. Finally, a few more words about the _argumentum ex silentio_, a common logical fallacy, that the mockers like so much to throw at these investigations. Namely, what about fossilized corn cobs? Where are they? Similar arguments were tossed at us previously in the discussions about the pre-Columbian chickens in America. Yes, the repertoire of the deniers is rather limited... There are posters here who seem almost parrot-like in their insistence on repeating the same few words... "Gime za fossil... Gime za fossil... Gime za fossil..." But when I suggested to one of them how such an archaeological investigation may be launched (i.e. doing such things as defining the necessary anthropological and historical background, determining the time scales for possible fossils, locating the likely areas to look for such evidence, etc.), what was the reply? Well he said that such an investigation would be "stupid" (yes!), and that nobody would ever give a penny to launch it! My conclusion, it is not the fossil that they want. They don't really care very much to see that fossil... What they want is simply to preserve at all costs certain _fossilized ideas_ about the superiority of their Eurocentric dogma they inherited through their upbringing. Or so it seems. Regards, Yuri. =O= Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto =O= --- a webpage like any other... http://www.io.org/~yuku --- We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which there were not to be seen superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree === Bishop Diego de Landa on his dealings with the Mayans.Click here to go one level up in the directory.