ancient corn

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at mail.trends.ca
Tue Jun 10 11:53:28 EST 1997


bortiz at cms.cc.wayne.edu wrote:
: In article <5nhblj$cla$2 at trends.ca>,
:   yuku at mail.trends.ca (Yuri Kuchinsky) wrote:

[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). 

[Yuri:]
: > 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.

Dear me, Bernard, did I shift the topic? Somehow I didn't notice that! 

And I, in my simplicity, thought that you just quoted someone's opinion
from 30 years ago saying that "*there is no hard and fast evidence for any
pre Columbian introduction of any single plant* [emphasis in the
original]". And in regard to this, I helpfully pointed out to you that
this is an opinion from 30 years ago, and that there exists _now_ a near
consensus about sweet potato (Ipomoea). So it does help to quote more
recent stuff. You obviously relied on an outdated reference, and I merely
corrected a resulting misconception of yours... 

: 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

Wrong, Bernard.

: 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.

This is obviously wrong. Again, you're quoting someone from 22 years ago.
Admittedly you're getting closer to being up to date, but slowly...

Yes, you've unloaded quite a bit on my plate, Bernard, this long post with
quite a number of inaccurate statements. I would like to inform you that
these subjects have been debated at length in these groups by me and
others over the last year or so. Usually we were using much more recent
publications as references. 

In due course of time, I will try to deal at length with the issues you're
raising. I will try to correct the errors, and hope not to change the
subject too often in the future... 

To begin with, how about this bit of recent research? It's about the sweet
potato. I don't think we should neglect it, since the scholarly consensus
on this subject has changed in the last few years, the fact unreflected by
your post. I will come back to other matters later.

The following file is compiled from two of my previous posts and reedited. 
I preserved some of the context of that discussion in January. My partner
in that discussion was Peter van Rossum, and, although a rather abrasive
type, he was rather good at what he was doing, at carrying his side of the
debate -- I must certainly give him credit for this. 


[begin quote]

From:         yuku at io.org (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/01/16

And here, I would like to quote from a relatively new publication. 
ISLANDS, PLANTS, AND POLYNESIANS: AN INTRODUCTION TO POLYNESIAN
ETHNOBOTANY, Paul Cox and Sandra Banack, eds, Portland, 1991. In the
article POLYNESIAN PLANT NAMES, Karl H. Rensch writes:

"I do not intend to go back to the question of whether the word _kumara_
[signifying sweet potato, _Ipomoea_], which has reflexes in most
Polynesian langauges, is of South American Indian origin. The case for it
has been proven beyond doubt (Yen 1974)" (p. 98)

Among other things, Rench establishes, based on linguistic analysis of the
word _kumara_, and its congnates, that, and I quote:

"...the sweet potato reached Polynesia at least twice: once via a
northern route through Hawaii under the guise of *kuara/*kuala, and once
via a southern route under the guise of *kumara, with Easter Island as
its point of entry. In both places a great number of varieties of the
sweet potato is attested. As Polynesisans propagated the sweet potatoes
through cuttings, the new varieties came about through a very slow
process of vegetative mutation, pointing to antiquity of cutivation." (p.
108)

I have presented here before what I believe is strong evidence for Old
World pre-columbian maize. I think this was valid evidence. No, I'm not
surprised that some people, because of certain vested interests, both
professional and ideological, will prefer not to see the obvious... Is it
really necessary to explain here that the case for the human-assisted
diffusion of sweet potato west from America pre-Columbus significantly
strengthens the case for the similar diffusion of maize? In fact, the
sweet potato and the maize diffusions reinforce each other wonderfully...

So this is the way it is. The real scientists go ahead and study the true
story of the diffusion of these plants. And all the great achievements of
ancient tribal peoples -- their incredible skills in navigation, and in
agriculture -- are FINALLY emerging from obscurity created by Eurocentric
academic indifference and inertia.

[end quote]

Best regards,

Yuri.

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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