Maize etc in pre-Columbian India

Sandel a at
Thu Feb 8 18:49:19 EST 2001

Hu McCulloch wrote in message <3A82C4B4.BA3E4198 at>...
>My website on "Maize in pre-Columbian India", at
> ,
>has been newly expanded to include a review of
>Shakti M. Gupta's 1996 book _Plants in Indian Temple
>Art_, which authoritatively confirms Carl Johannessen's identification
>of maize in 12th and 13th century temple sculptures in India.
>Gupta goes on to identify at least 5 other New World plants
>in pre-Columbian Indian sculptures, including sunflower,
>pineapple, and monstera (split-leaf philodendron).
>Also added are my comments on Jean Andrews' article,
>"Diffusion of Mesomaerican Food Complex to Southeastern
>Europe", from _Geographical Review_, 1993.
>-- Hu McCulloch
An interesting site.  But the assertion that these sculptures show maize and
other American plants is based on rather thin evidence - no more, in fact,
than the (highly subjective) interpretation of what they look like.  As the
site itself makes clear, other explanations exist, and they are explanations
which make sense in the context of Indian iconography:  Indian sculptures of
gods show the gods holding attributes of their power, not food plants, a
fundamental point of difference between the subcontinent and mesoamerican
civilisations.  Given this, and applying the principle of Occam's razor, I
would have to say that the case for these sculptures representing American
plants is not proven.  In order to strengthen the case, you could look at
other elements such as linguistic evidence (are the names for maize etc in
the various Indian languages derived from local or foreign sources - foreign
derivations for the names would indicate foreign sources for the plants, and
vice versa).  Still, thanks for bringing it to attention.


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