ancient corn

bortiz at cms.cc.wayne.edu bortiz at cms.cc.wayne.edu
Mon Jun 9 16:11:46 EST 1997


In article <5nhblj$cla$2 at trends.ca>,
  yuku at mail.trends.ca (Yuri Kuchinsky) wrote:
>
>[snip]
> a) Yuri has been posting a lot of the latest research on maize. I'm aware
> of a lot more that I haven't posted yet. Greg also posted the latest
> research in these threads. On the other hand, Bernard, with the exception
> of one brief quotation of uncertain value from Coe, has been treating us
> with the quotes from the 60s. I would have said "Pot. Kettle. Black.",
> except that, myself, I quote recent stuff, mostly...
>
> b) Although I went beyond MAN ACROSS THE SEA long ago, it remains to be
> seen exactly how and in what way is it "discredited". Unread, yes, but
> discredited? I would like more details about this, Bernard.
>
> : As I've quoted before even the
> : diffusionists editors of the book wrote in it that "The consensus of
> : botanical evidence given in the symposium seems to be that *there is no
> : hard and fast evidence for any pre Columbian introduction of any single
> : plant* [emphasis in the original] across the ocean from the Old World to
> : the New World, or vice-versa. This is emphatically *not* [emphasis in the
> : original] to say that it could not have occurred (Riley, Kelley,
> : Pennnington, and Rands 1971: 452-453).
>
> The problem, Bernard, is that you don't quote, and perhaps are unaware of,
> much of the recent scholarship in this area. I would like to bring it to
> your attention that the strongest case for transoceanic contact is
> provided at this time by the sweet potato studies. That it diffused with
> human assistance from America to Polynesia is now considered a CONSENSUS
> among the scholars in the field.

Yuri is quick, as usual, to shift the topic. The point I make is that
*Man Across the Sea* the publication of a symposium by DIFFUSIONISTS held
in the late 60's was published in 1971 and because its allegations and
hypotheses have not been supported by evidence since then it has had no
influence on the publications of scholars who are recognized as experts
in the field of plant origins. Again quoting from our response to
commentaries to the original article in *Current Anthropology* " The
diffusionist botanical movement reached its peak in the early seventies
with the publication of Riley, Pennington, and Rands (1971). Carter
(1977) and Lathrap (1977) were also published in mainstream publications
but it seems that consensus had been reached that the evidence for all
these allegations was weak (Reed 1977) and diffusionist claims of this
nature are no longer being considered seriously. Recent reviews of New
World diffusionist controversies (Fingerhut 1994; Fritze 1993) offer
little in this area after the 1970’s. Mainstream texts on the origins of
agriculture (Cowan and Watson 1992; Harris 1996; Shaw, Sinclair, Andah,
and Okpoko 1993; Zohary and Hopf 1993) ignore the matter completely."
[BOM I am speaking particularly about claims of plants in the New World
from other places, although this also holds for other plant diffusion
claims in the rest of the world]

Göran Burenhult, ed.* An Illustrated History of Humankind*. vol. 2,
People of the Stone Age, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1993. Carter, G. F.
1977. A Hypothesis Suggesting a Single Origin of Agriculture. in *
Origins of Agriculture*. edited by C. A Reed. 89-133. The Hague: Mouton.
Cowan, C. W. and P. J. Watson. 1992. *The Origins of Agriculture. An
International Perspective*. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press.
Fingerhut, E. R. 1994. *Explorers of Pre-Columbian America? The
Diffusionist Inventionist Controversy*. Claremont, CA: Regina Books.
Fritze, R. H. 1993. *Legend and Lore of the Americas Before 1492*. Santa
Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Harris, D. R. Ed. 1996. *The Origins and Spread of
Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia*. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
Press. Lathrap, D. W. 1977. Our Father the Cayman, Our Mother the Gourd:
Spinden Revisited, or a Unitary Model for the Emergence of Agriculture in
the New World. in *Origins of Agriculture*. edited by C. A Reed. 713-
750. The Hague: Mouton. Reed, C. A. 1977. Origins of Agriculture:
Discussion and Some Conclusions. in * Origins of Agriculture*. edited by
C. A Reed. 917-955. The Hague: Mouton. Riley, C. L., C. W. Pennington,
and R. L. Rands, eds. 1971. *Man Across the Sea. Problems of
Pre-Columbian Contacts*. Austin: University of Texas Press. Shaw, T., P.
Sinclair, B. Andah, and A. Okpoko. Eds. 1993. *The Archaeology of Africa.
Food, Metals, and Towns*. London:Routledge. Zohary, D. and M. Hopf. 1993.
*Domestication of Plants in the Old World*. 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

The point is that even the diffusionist editors of *Man Across the Sea*
admitted that there was no proof that ANY pre-columbian plant diffusion
by human had ever taken place. Later in 1977, the editor of the
proceedings of a world symposium on agriculture (Reeds 1977) which
included diffusionist papers from Carter and Lathrap [BOM nota bene,
symposium volumes are not really peer reviewed publications-- this also
applies to Man Across the Sea] reviews these but is not convinced that
they are supported by evidence. Kent V. Flannery (1973) in a much cited
review of the origins of agriculture says, "My overall conclusion is that
Old World-New World diffusion of cultivated plants in Pre-Columbian times
was very limited, if it took place at all; and certainly it di not
"cause" agriculture to begin in either area." Flannery, K.V. 1973. "The
Origins of Agriculture," *Annual Review of Anthropology* 2: 271-310.

> And here's a quote from a _recent_ source:
>
> David H. Kelley, AN ESSAY ON PRE-COLUMBIAN CONTACTS BETWEEN THE
> AMERICAS AND OTHER AREAS, in RACE, DISCOURSE, AND THE ORIGIN OF THE
> AMERICAS, Smithsonian, 1995
>[snip]
>

> Bernard seems to know more about Africa, although he quotes mostly from
> somewhat dated sources. To give him the benefit of the doubt, recent
> sources are often difficult to come by in this somewhat, and undeservedly,
> obscure field. Perhaps later I can brush up on the African stuff and come
> back to this discussion. From what I've seen, precolumbian African maize
> seemed like a promising area to investigate.
>
> Now, Bernard, since, you specialize in "African diffusion refutations",
> perhaps you would like to have fun with the following, also from Kelley?
>
> [begin quote]
>
> Van Sertima discusses yams and bananas, both Old World crops, both
> prominent in Africa, both reported in Inca period graves in Peru.
> Against these reports are only three factors: the excavations were
> done prior to the development of modern excavating techniques;
> similar reports have not come from modern excavations (the most
> serious objection); and they are contrary to expectations. The
> latter is probably the most important factor in dismissing the
> reports, aside from ignorance of their existence. (p. 116)
>
> [end quote]


Yuri, Yuri, Yuri ;-(. When will you learn. anything associated with Van
Sertima is fatally tainted. 1) the origin of Kelley's paper was that the
Smithsonian was going to have a symposium featuring Van Sertima and
people objected to the Smithsonian presenting just his side of this
controversial issue. The organizers rather than getting a genuine
opponent (like me) set up a phony response because Kelley is a rabid
diffusionist but, like you, Yuri, favors diffusion across the Pacific.
The publication of the symposium,  as I mentioned above, is not a
refereed publication.

2) You cite this as a *recent* publication after chiding the age of my
references, BUT this is misleading. Kelley has NO RECENT REFERENCES ABOUT
YAMS OR BANANAS he just cites Van Sertima (1976) [and you will shortly
see how recent the evidence about bananas in Peru is]. Citing Kelley
(1995: 116) "Van Sertima discusses yams and bananas, both Old World
crops, both prominent in Africa, both reported in Inca period graves in
Peru. Against these reports are only three factors: the excavations were
done prior to the development of modern excavating techniques; similar
reports have not come from modern excavations..." That is Kelley's source
no new data. Kelley is honest enough to point out that Van Sertima (and
now you, Yuri) is basing his argument on data obtained BEFORE MODERN
EXCAVATION TECHNIQUES AND THAT NO SUBSEQUENT EXCAVATION HAS SUPPORTED
THIS SUPPOSITION. What is misleading in Kelley is exactly how old this
data is. Van Sertima got practically all his information from Leo
Wiener's books published in the 1920's and this is his, Kelley's, and now
your source. However, it gets even better! The real source for the Inca
bananas is A.T. de Rochebrunne, *Botanisches Centralblatt* v.3,: 1633
******1880****** HOW' THAT FOR AN UP-TO-DATE, HOT-OFF-THE -PRESS
INFORMATION. The question I want to pose is: How much do we want to trust
Kelley when it comes to anything else?

>
> I will not argue with you about African maize, Bernard, at this point, but
> if you wish to present a more global case, you should take a look at some
> more recent literature. I can help you with bibliography if you wish.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Yuri.

Given how gullible you seem to be in accepting diffusionist papers like
Kelley, Jeffreys, or Van Sertima. I don't know how reliable your
bibliography would be. The essence of scholarship is not to accept papers
blindly, one needs to follow the footnotes to the original sources. I
have had much success in debunking by merely going to the original
sources, as shown by the banana case above. Bernard Ortiz de Montellano

>
> 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: http://www.io.org/~yuku -----

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