maize in Asia before Columbus?

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at
Mon Mar 2 11:59:50 EST 1998

Jeffrey L Baker (jbaker at U.Arizona.EDU) wrote on Sun, 1 Mar 1998 12:58:06 -0700:
: On 1 Mar 1998, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

: > > The appearance of chromosomal knobs in maize genes may not be directly
: > > due to genetic factors.

: > So what would it then be due to?
: > 
: > > If the distribution of maize with chromosomal
: > > knobs is examined, we find that the presence of chromosomal knobs is
: > > restricted to high altitude areas (the andes, Mexican highlands, and
: > > now the Himalayas.

: The point is that this maize could not have gotten from the Mexican
: highlands to the Andes, or from the Andes to the Himalayas without being 
: transported through a lower elevation area.


Well, presumably it did not fly over on a magic carpet...

: Unless one is to postulate
: the transport of maize seeds from the highland areas of the new world to
: the Himalayas,

NOBODY is suggesting this.

: without any intervening planting going on, the
: distribution of cs. knobs is difficult to explain on purely genetic
: factors.

This does not follow. These peculiar features are TOTALLY EASY to explain
on the basis of this being the _same variety of maize_. Can I put it any
simpler for you? 

: If a highland variety of maize was moved from, say the Andes to India,
: and planted there (including the the Hoysala temples), I would expect 
: to find maize with cs. knobs growing in lowland areas.

So why is it not there? Are you making some kind of a point here?

: The distribution of maize cs. knobs cannot be adequately explained by
: attributing it to diffusion.

This is a non-sequitur.

: Diffusion would not leave a the spotty
: pattern that is present in the distribution of maize varieties with
: cs. knobs. 

I think you misunderstand this whole issue. The situation is VERY SIMPLE. 
We have the same kind of "archaic" variety of maize in some isolated
places in America and in India. The best way to explain this is by direct
human-assisted transmission in ancient times.

Please deal with this situation, instead of offering some strange

: > > It is possible that the knobs that are found on the varieties of
: > > maize studied by K&S developed after they arrived in the Himalayas.
: > 
: > Well, I find this unbelievable.

: How much time have you spent studying genetics. One of my undergraduate
: minors was in genetics.

: I don't find it unbelievable or prepostorous.

I find it preposterous that you expect me to accept your argument from
authority... _Your own_ authority...

: > > K&S note simularities between these knobs and teosinte, but they
: > > don't mention which variety of teosinte they examined. This is important.
: > > Was it balsas (which is probably the ancestor of maize) or one of the
: > > numerous other varieties of teosinte.
: > 
: > I don't know. You don't know. So this is not a valid argument against
: > Sachan. 

: Sachan's argument cannot be accepted

Well, don't accept it then. Big surprise...

: until this the specifics of their
: study are presented. The race of teosinte that they examined is one
: specific that is necessary to evaluate their argument.

So evaluate it then. Yes, "we need more study" is an expectable response
from you. Funny that usually the opponents of Johannessen are not really
interested in doing actual studies, they just always point to the need for
more studies...

: > > Jean Andrews (1993, Geographical Review 83: 194-204) has argued that maize
: > > was spread by to India by traders along the coast of Africa, arriving
: > > in places like Mecca before going to India.
: > 
: > Was it the Portuguese who took it to Mecca? This sounds incredible. 

: Why does this sound incredible.

Because non-Muslims are not allowed into Mecca.

: If you knew much about trade networks in 
: the 15th and 16th century, it wouldn't sound so incredible.

Sure. You know everything. Teach me, Oh, the Wise Master.

: > BTW, does Andrews cite Johannessen in his work? This would be interesting
: > to know. I have not seen Andrew's work as yet.

: No.

I find this quite revealing...

: > > This would account for the
: > > Indian names for maize that K & S cite (which roughly translate into
: > > names like Mecca sorghum).
: > 
: > Please provide more details about this strange scenario suggested by
: > Andrews.

: This part of the scenario is not from Andrews. Based upon the trade routes
: that are discussed in Andrews (and other sources), I am suggesting this as
: an explanation for the names.

I see. I have more info about maize names on my webpage.

: > > Its also worth noting that two of the routes that Andrews postulates
: > > for the introduction of maize into central asia would cross the Himalayas.
: > 
: > This is strange. How would the routes cross the Himalayas? There's
: > substantial evidence to indicate that maize arrived to China by the Silk
: > Route from the West, presumably from India. How maize got to India is not
: > clear as per the conventional view...

: To get to the Silk Road from India you have to cross the Himalayas. You
: either head up the Indus River Valley or you start from the mouth of the
: Ganges River (the Burmese Road, of WWII fame). Quoting from Andrews (p.
: 200):

: "Yet another possible route from the Indian Ocean began at Portuguese Diu
: and Surat on the Gulf of Cambay, went inland over a low divide to
: tributaries of the Ganges, then up the Brahmaputra River, and across the
: Himilayas to Szechuan. Moreover, another possible avenue to China was
: ^^^^^^^^^
: accessible: Portuguese controlled the mouth of the Indus River, which led
: to the Himalayan silk routes."
:        ^^^^^^^^^

: Andrews argues that maize (and other mesoamerican plants) traveled from 
: Portugal and around Africa to India and Indonesia via a combination of
: Portugese, Arabic, Chinese and Gujarati traders.

Thanks for providing details of what Andrews is saying. I suppose it may
be relevant to our problem in a remote sort of way. It seems to me that
Andrews is speculating without the benefit of familiarity with
Johannessen's or other similar research. 


            =O=    Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto    =O=
        --- my webpage is at ---

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, 
it is time to reform  -=O=-  Mark Twain

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