ancient gourd (Lagenaria)

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at
Fri Jun 27 12:41:35 EST 1997

bortiz at wrote:


: Yuri then cites Roosevelt (1995) and Charles Heizer (1990) but does not
: provide the actual citations so that it is impossible to check them.


Sorry that in my haste I did not include the complete references. 

: It
: may be that Yuri is citing Heizer's *Seeds to civilization* 2nd edition.

This is corect, Bernard. I simply cite a new edition, and this part was
not changed at all as far as I can see.

: The first edition (San Francisco:W.H. Freeman 1973, p. 175) is not as
: wishy-washy as Yuri would have us believe, " Some people have thought
: that man may have been responsible for its wide dispersal in early times,
: but since it has been shown that the gourds can remain in sea water for
: long periods without damage to the seeds, it perhaps more likely that its
: wide distribution is to be explained as the result of oceanic drifting of
: the fruits."

Please note the "perhaps" above.

: Another contemporaneous review (H.G. Baker, 1970. *Plants and
: civilization* Belmont: Wadsworth, p. 50) says, " ... it sems unlikely
: that persons making transoceanic voyages would load their boats with such
: bulky, nearly inedible fruits.

But Lathrap has plenty of evidence in his article of important
_ritual/religious uses_ of gourd.

: Consequently, the calabash probably cannot
: be used as an example of a species whose presence on both sides of the
: Atlantic ocean speaks in favor of cultural contacts between the
: hemispheres in ancient times."

It certainly cannot provide, of itself, solid evidence for human-assited
diffusion at this point. But I believe the likelihood is that it diffused
with human assistance. 


: native fish poisons with
: saponins are used all over the New World so that Lathrap is also wrong
: here. 2 out of 3 so far.

Well, Bernard, simply because they were used elsewhere is no proof they
didn't come there from the Amazon.

: Yuri updates by citing Anna Roosevelt (whose work is not universally :
accepted) 1995 (but I cannot check the original citations)  "Having the :
earliest known American pottery in tropical lowlands at the eastern edge :
of South America fit neither the Japanese fishermen theory nor the :
Andean invasion theory but was consonant with independent invention or :
Lathrap's African origins hypothesis. (p.  116)."<

This was the 1995 volume on pottery edited by John Hoopes, published by

: Roosevelt herself is not citing Lathrap accurately. In his article
: Lathrap was trying to explain gourd remains in Peru that were 13,000
: years ago so that his presumed trip had to be older. He actually proposed
: that Lagenaria arrived 16,000 years ago or earlier. Thus the discrepancy
: between his dates and Roosevelt is even greater. Lathrap's proposals are
: even more outrageous. He proposes that Lagenaria was domesticated 40,0000
: years ago. This is tens of thousands of years before any other of the
: well documented plants like wheat, barley, or rice. No anthropologist
: will agree with this. Humans at this time were all hunter-gatherers and
: not domesticating anything.

True, his theories are controversial. He is indeed trying to challenge the
prevailing idea that the primarily food plants were the earliest
domesticated. What can I say, I guess people will have to read him in
order to see if he may have a case.

: Another point that makes me very suspicious about either the quote or
: Roosevelt's qualifications. Hunter-gatherers do not make pottery.

But the settled fisherfolk, pre-agricultural, made the first pottery. This
is accepted now. 

: We do
: know that Jomon culture was making pottery in the period concerned which
: is why Meggers Valdivia contact was originally even considered-- it has
: now been pretty well discredited.

It's a solid case, and cannot really be discredited. Anyone who compared
the pottery shapes in Valdivia and in Japan will know what I mean.

: However, exactly where in Sub-Saharan
: Africa was there a culture that was making pottery 16,000,  13,0000, or
: 9000 years ago?

The earliest pottery in Africa comes from Sahara. 10,000 years ago or

I will post a file from my webpage next with this and other relevant
info, and a complete citation for this material.



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: -----

More information about the Bioforum mailing list