Subject:      Re: sweet potato
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/07/12
Message-ID:   <5q83ah$q55$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,sci.archaeology.mesoamerican

Thanks for clarifying your position, Bernard.

[22] wrote:


: This replies to both your and Larry Elmore's request  (My original post)
: K. V. Flannery. 1973. The Origins of Africulture, *Annual Review of
: Antropology* 2: 271-310. cites approvingly paper by Pickersgill and
: Bunting (1969). p. 306 The cultivated sweet potato (*Ipomoea batatas*) is
: a hexaploid which may have arisen by a hybridization between a diploid
: and a tetraploid ancestor. Two species with both diploid and tetraploid
: forms * I. tiliacea* and *I gracilis*, occur *both*[underline Flannery]
: in Polynesia and the Americas. The hybridization leading to *I. batatas*
: may therefore have taken place independently in both areas.
: Pickersgill, B. and A.H. Bunting. 1969. Cultivated Plants and the Kon-
: Tiki Theory, *Nature* 222: 225-227.
: What Pickersgill and Flannery point out is that 1) the cultivated sweet
: potato is a hexaploid formed by the hybridization of a wild tetraploid
: and a wild diplod; 2) Such a wild diploid (I. tilacea) and a wild
: tetraploid (I. gracilis) are native to BOTH the Americas and Polynesia;

I see. Whereas before, the opponents of human-assisted diffusion held that
no species of sw. potato were native to Polynesia, now they hold that the
whole 2 (two) species were native! What a turn-around!

: 3) hybridizations could have taken place independently in BOTH places and
: *voila* *I. batatas* can be cultivated in the Andes and Polynesia without
: involving a transport from one locality to another by humans.
: The "consensus" that Yuri keeps referring to refers to the existence of
: *I. batatas* at a fairly early time in Polynesia,

Not quite, Bernard. Consensus is that it was brought over by humans.

: but this "consensus"
: does not rule out the scenario pointed out by Pickersgill.

I'm afraid it does. I don't know where is Pickersgill currently with his
claim, after all it's nearly 20 years now since it was made, but I would
like to point out that even if he's correct that two kinds of sw. potato
were ancient in Polynesia, one still needs to know how and when they made
it there...

: That is why I
: suggested that DNA analysis of *I. batatas* from the two places could
: tell us if they came from the same or from two different hybridization
: events. This is not unusual. It has happened many times with bananas
: which are a whole groupd of different hybridizations of the same two
: species.

I'm afraid you may be fighting a losing battle here, Bernard. Here's a
quote from a rather _unexpected_ source :

Stephen Williams, FANTASTIC ARCHAEOLOGY, University of Pennsylvania Press,

"There is rather definitive evidence that the sweet potato, a New World
plant, appeared in Polynesia with a name that has ties to South American
Indian languages. ... Gladwin uses the sweet potato to prove trans-Pacific
contact, and with that alone I am in agreement." (p. 232)

Ahem... Yes, in agreement all around...

But of course later on in this passage Williams betrays some of his rather
remarkable ignorance about the history of S. American native cultures,
about their incredible navigational skills, and about the extent of their
precolumbian coastal trading networks:

"It is much more likely that the Polynesians with their proven maritime
prowess once went to S. America and returned with the sw. potato than
that some essentially landlocked Andean cultures,"

What a blooper this is!

"with only minimal coastal fish harvesting to their credit, were the
founders of a dynasty on Easter Island... [contra Heyerdahl]" (p. 233)

If only Williams bothered to read the early historical accounts of the
Spanish invaders to see that the Incas, although based in the highlands,
controlled a huge maritime trading network run by their allies, the
Chincha, on the coast! Williams needs some remedial learning here in a
hurry... When Pizarro arrived on the coast in 1532, all that was still in
evidence, although one needs to note that that amazing maritime
civilization of Chincha collapsed very quickly after the Spanish influence
was firmly established.

All this info is available in a number of Heyerdahl's books, the most
recent being PYRAMIDS OF TUCUME, 1995.

Oh, well, but here we may be getting somewhat off topic...

Best regards,


Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- Specializing in sneaky and malicious
editing of other people's posts since 1997

We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears white is
really black, if the hierarchy of the Church so decides -=O=- St. Ignatius
of Loyola -=O=- = -=O=- my webpage is at [23]

Click here to go one level up in the directory.