maize in Asia: other evidence

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at mail.trends.ca
Tue Mar 10 14:07:53 EST 1998


Jeffrey L Baker (jbaker at U.Arizona.EDU) wrote:
: On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, Hu McCulloch wrote:
: 
: >  Jeffrey L Baker <jbaker at U.Arizona.EDU> writes:
: 
: > Chowdhury makes no mention of maize one way or the other in 
: > the 1972 note.  Does he expressly mention its absence in 
: > the Encyclopedia article?  Prior to what date?  500 BC again? 
: 
: He clearly mentions maize in the 1990 article, but does not mention any
: evidence for palaeobotanical remains of maize.

Hu,

Jeff here is a little reticent to provide details. Perhaps the reason for
this will become apparent later on in the post...

I've actually looked up this publication in the library here.

Chowdhury, K.A., 1990, Archaeobotany. In An Encyclopedia of Indian
Archaeology, Vol. I, edited by A. Ghosh, pp. 6-9. E.J. Brill, New York. 

And guess what? While I would not recommend you should go out of your way
to get these 2 volumes, since they devote to maize only a couple of short
paragraphs, they contain the following rather interesting bits and pieces.

In v. 1, p. 7, one finds the following:

[begin quote]

2.2.7 _Zea Mays_ (maize, makka). Imprints found at KAUNDINYAPURA in c.
1435. Primitive (living fossil) maize in Sikkim is cytologically different
from American of Carribean maize, supporting its pre-Columbian occurrence
in the subcontinent, though perhaps it was reintroduced by the Arabs.

[end quote]

This of course refers to the work of Vishnu-Mittre which has been
considered in some detail previously last year by me and Peter. It seems
like Chowdhury is persuaded that this archaeological evidence is valid.

And in v. 2, there's a brief description of this Kaundinyapura site. It is
an ancient site with a well attested Megalithic level (which in India is
considered to have begun ca. 1000 bce). The settlement then declined by
late medieval times. In this description one finds the following:

[begin quote]

Besides a few Muslim coins, the cultural data for this Pd [late medieval]
are very meagre, the only interesting object being a potsherd bearing the
impression of a maize cob which, along with the prehistoric maize from
Java, constitutes the only example of the pre-Columbian occurrence of
maize in the Old World. (Dikshit, M.G., 1968, Excavations at
Kaundinyapura, Bombay.) 

[end quote]

That's all there is about maize in these 2 volumes. Not a word about the
maize in the Hoysala temples. I found only one passing reference to these
temples themselves.

And there's also this reference to some precolumbian maize found in Java.
I know nothing about this find, and the book does not explain.

And in v. 1, on p. 163, I've found the following rather revealing
statement.

[begin quote]

Lower Deccan. The area now covered by Karnataka State was ruled by several
important dynasties in the late historical period -- the Chalukyas, ... 
the Hoysalas, etc., -- who studded the land with temples and left behind
inscriptions and coins. But the archaeology proper of the area during this
period [Late Historical] has been inadequately studied, with the result
that hardly anything of the material culture is known. 

[end quote]

So things are rather clear now. These archaeological digs in that area
that some here were expounding about exist only in their own minds. The
argument from the absence of evidence is completely irrelevant in this
case.

Yuri.

Yuri Kuchinsky  -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku  NEWLY UPDATED

Reality is that which, when you stop believing 
in it, doesn't go away -=O=- Philip K. Dick



More information about the Plantbio mailing list