old maize in Asia debates

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at globalserve.net
Fri Mar 6 18:27:35 EST 1998

HornedReaper at rocketmail.com helpully reformatted the Burglin post
containing some old maize debates. (Burglin keeps these posts on his
highly tendentious "Mesoamerican FAQ" webpage.) So now I can reply to some
of those items. They do come in useful after all... If these debates are
difficult for most people to follow, blame Burglin who posted this long
file containing ill-assorted files from last year. 

Below, Greg (way back then) misinterpreted the meaning my post and quoted
from some rather out-of-date and rather questionable research of

> The reference here is to the "waxy endosperm" varieties of corn present in
> Asia. 

This was not a reference to "waxy endosperm" maize.

> And indeed, Mangelsdorf says of it ;
>   "Varieties of corn pure for waxy endosperm are unknown among the races
> of maize in   America -- (Mangelsdorf 1971:143)"

This was not relevant to our argument, as I explained long time ago
already. Both Greg and Mandelsdorf focused only of a small part of
Jeffreys' arguments posted by me previously, and ignored the rest. 

[snip the rest]


And now, for the next and a more useful argument. Below is an old response
by Peter to my post. Peter quoted from Heiser and also from Whyte. While
the quote from Heiser is helpful in some respects, the quote from Whyte is
indicative of the confusion that bedevils the opponents of Johannessen. To
make the long story short, the opponents of Johannessen still cannot get
their story straight. Below, you will see that Whyte advocates the arrival
of maize to India through the Pacific and the Philippines. But there's a
problem here. Because a few days ago Jeff Baker posted some quotes from
Jean Andrews. And she advocates the arrival of maize to India _from the
West_, i.e. from around Africa! 

So what all this means, is that THERE IS NO GENERALLY ACCEPTED THEORY at
this time about how maize arrived to India. And this sort of confusion
among the mainstream establishment scholars indicates clearly that this
question is still wide open. And this should indicate to our critics that
they don't have a coherent case against Johannessen.

So see below first the exchange with Peter, and then the quotes from the
recent Jeff's post: 

[Yuri writing last year:]
> >Also, Kay, let me ask you this. As a botanist, you should be very
> >knowledgeable about what the implications of a great genetic variety of a
> >plant in a certain area are. This is an indication that the plant has
> >been growing in this area for a long time. The varieties of corn in India
> >are extremely many, and some of them are very rare. What does this
> >indicate? And why all of the critiques of Johannessen that I've seen so
> >far, including yours, diligently avoid this issue? I'd be interested to
> >see your take on this...
> >Yuri.

> Time depth is not the only factor related to the diversity of a plant in
> a given area:
>   "Vavilov thought that areas of maximum genetic diversity represented
>    centers of origin and that the origin of a crop could be identified by
>    the simple procedure of analyzing variation patterns and plotting
>    regions where diversity was concentrated. It turned out that centers of
>    diversity are not the same as centers of origin, yet many crops do
>    exhibit centers of diversity.  The phenomenon is real and requires
>    explanation.  What causes variation to accumulate in secondary centers is
>    not too well understood, but some observable factors are:
>      1. A long history of continuous cultivation

This is the factor that I see as most important.

>      2. Ecological diversity, many habitats accomodate many races.
>      3. Human diversity, different tribes are attracted to different races
>         of the crop.
>      4. Introgression with wild and weedy relatives or between different
>         races of a crop."
>    (Heiser 1990:137).

And #4 would not be relevant in any way.

> So we see that just because an area has a wide diversity of a specific
plant > does not necessarily mean that we can in a straightforward manner
adduce > exactly when it was introduced to the area.  This fact led
another researcher > to comment:

>   "Although some attempt has been made to show that prehistoric maize
>    reached South Asia from the west, it is much more likely that it arrived
>    in Asia (none of the wild relatives of maize occurs in the natural floras
>    of east Asia) via Spanish voyages from Mexico through the Phillipines and
>    so west into south China, where its cultivation caused great destruction
>    of natural forest cover and erosion on the hill and mountain slopes of
>    Yunnan.  When the first maize cultigens reached the highly contrasting
>    monsoonal environment of north-east India (elevations 150 to 4,000 m,
>    rainfall 1,000 to 5,000 mm) they manifested the great diversity noted by
>    Bhag Singh in a secondary center of diversity." (Whyte 1985:263).


> Heiser, Charles Bixler
>   1990 "Seed to Civilization: The Story of Food." Cambridge: Harvard U. Press.
> Whyte, Robert Orr
>   1985 "Annual Crops of South and Southeast Asia," In Recent Advances in
>     Indo-Pacific Prehistory." V.N. Misra & P. Bellwood, eds.  New Delhi:
>     Oxford & IBH Publishers Co.
> Peter van Rossum


And now, the quotes that Jeff posted just a few days ago, and that
contradict what Peter posted:

> 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.                              
> Jeff Baker                                                                    
> Andrews, Jean, 1993, Diffusion of Mesoamerican Food Complex to                
> Southeastern Europe. Geographical Review 83: 194-204.                         

So readers in this group can see from the above that the opponents of
Johannessen do not have a coherent case, and in fact they contradict each
other. They certainly have not built a good case against Johannessen.

This would be all all for now. So the quotes recently posted by Burglin
come in handy after all...



Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku  UPDATED

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than
to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith

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