ancient bananas (Musa)

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at
Tue Jul 1 11:35:30 EST 1997

bortiz at wrote:

: Found the book. There is a new reprint University of Illinois Press 1993
: ($14.95).

And in his previous post,

bortiz at wrote:

: Your evidence all comes from Jack D. Forbes, BLACK AFRICANS AND NATIVE
: AMERICANS, 1988 (one usually cites place of publication and publisher to
: assist in finding a work). I'll wager sight unseen that the publisher is
: unorthodox ...

[I will answer the previous post by Bernard first, and will come back to
his later post later on]

Here's the complete reference, Bernard, as I have it:

Forbes, Jack D. Black Africans and native Americans: color, race, and
     caste in the evolution of red-black peoples. Oxford, UK; New
     York, NY, USA: Blackwell, 1988. 

So I guess these are your "unorthodox publishers"? Really... I recall I've
quoted some time ago from a book published by Cambridge University Press
(re: the Olmecs), and you said it was nonsense. You must be some sort of a
radical non-comformist, Bernard... <grin>

: The evidence so far (if what you cited is the best there is) is pretty
: ephemeral.

This, of course, remains to be demonstrated.

: What we have left is some historical references in obscure sources
: written in the 1580's claiming that bananas seemed to be native plants.

So what's wrong with "obscure sources"? These are the best, I think! In
fact, I specialize in them! Yes, one day, these obscure sources will not
be obscure anymore... <grin>

: Now all we have is the common names used in Spanish or Portuguese but do
: we get clear descriptions to show that these plants were in fact bananas
: (musa sp.)?

I don't quite understand your objection here. In my quote it said
"pacoba". Do you have any reason to believe that pacoba is not the same as

: Heiser is probably well acquainted with all the sources Forbes
: cites and that is what he is referring to. 

This too needs to be demonstrated. If Heiser was aware of them, why didn't
he say so?

[And now, again, in his latest post Bernard wrote:]

: The copy in Wayne State's Library, as I expected, has been
: stolen. I've ordered the book and will get to it. The pre-columbian is a
: fairly miniscule part of the book

This is correct.

: which deals primarily with the
: interactions of Indians and Africans after the conquest. Forbes's
: expertise is primarily in blaming the destruction of Indians on the
: Europeans.

And this should make his research unreliable, according to you?

: I read a short summary of Forbes's claims in Fingerhut. If the summary is
: correct, Forbes actually contradicts your other sources

Which sources? I'm not aware that he contradicts anything I wrote.

: and your main
: claim.

Which claim? I'm not aware of any contradiction.

: According to Fingerhut, what Forbes claims is that bananas came to
: the New World from Asia FIRST and then were transported East to Africa.

In part, yes, he tentatively proposes this theory, but he makes no
absolute claims about this. And _I_ never claimed anything that
contradicts this. In fact, my ONLY claim so far has been that bananas were
precolumbian in America. And Forbes IN NO WAY contradicts my claim. 

Please, Bernard, let's try to do without obfuscation.

Forbes actually indicates that various varieties of bananas had a complex
history of transmission and cultivation. He devotes only about a page and
a half to the whole matter, with half a page of notes. He seemed to have
done a lot of research on this, but probably decided not to deal with this
matter in detail in this book. That's my impression, for all it's worth. 

But his historical sources stand as valid until demonstrated to be

Yours truly,


Yuri Kuchinsky   | "Where there is the Tree of Knowledge, there
     -=-         | is always Paradise: so say the most ancient 
 in Toronto 	 | and the most modern serpents."  F. Nietzsche
 ----- my webpage is for now at: -----

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