Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Impact of the Diffusion of Maize to the Southwestern United States

10.12.2009
An international group of anthropologists offers a new theory about the diffusion of maize to the Southwestern United States and the impact it had.

Published the week of Dec. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study, co-authored by Gayle Fritz, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues*, suggests that maize was passed from group to group of Southwestern hunter-gatherers.

These people took advantage of improved moisture conditions by integrating a storable and potentially high-yielding crop into their broad-spectrum subsistence strategy.

"For decades, there have been two competing scenarios for the spread of maize and other crops into what is now the U.S. Southwest," Fritz said.

According to the first, groups of farmers migrated northward from central Mexico into northwest Mexico and from there into the Southwest, bringing their crops and associated lifeways with them.

In the second scenario, maize moved northward from central Mexico to be Southwest by being passed from one hunter-gatherer band to the next, who incorporated the crop into their subsistence economies and eventually became farmers themselves.

"The case for long-distance northward migration of Mexican farming societies received a boost about 12 years ago when British archaeologist Peter Bellwood, joined a few years later by geographer Jared Diamond and linguist Jane Hill, included the Southwest in a grand global model in which long-distance migration of agriculturalists explains the spread of many of the world's major language families," Fritz said. "In the Southwest case, Uto-Aztecan-speaking peoples, ancestors of people who speak modern languages, like Comanche and Hopi, would have been responsible for the diffusion."

In this paper, the researchers summarize the most recent archaeological evidence, and integrate what is currently known about early maize in the Southwest with genetic, paleoecological, and historical linguistic studies.

Corn from five sites in Arizona and New Mexico now predates 2,000 B.C., which makes it too early to be explained by diffusion of settled Mexican villagers, said Fritz.

"No artifacts or features of any type point to in-migrating Mesoamerican farmers; in fact, continuity of local traditions is manifested, with independent invention of low-fired ceramics and with the construction of irrigation features in the Tucson Basin dating earlier than any known south of the border," she said. "We interpret the linguistic evidence as favoring a very early (beginning shortly after 7,000 B.C.), north-to-south movement of Proto-Uto-Aztecan hunter-gatherers and subsequent division into northern and southern Uto-Aztecan-speaking groups. "

These two groups do not share words and meanings for maize because, according to the researchers' scenario, farming post-dates their separation.

"We think the Southwest stands as a region in which indigenous foragers adopted crops and made the transition to agriculture locally rather than having been joined or displaced by in-migrating farming societies," Fritz said. "Peter Bellwood may well be correct that long-distance movements account for some examples of the expansion of languages and farming technologies, but cases like that of the Southwest are very important in demonstrating that this pattern did not apply universally."

* Lead authors of this study are William L. Merrill of the National Museum of Natural History and Robert J. Hard of University of Texas at San Antonio. Co-authors are Fritz, Karen R. Adams of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, John R. Roney of Colinas Cultural Resource Consulting and A.C. MacWilliams of University of Calgary.

Full text of the study is available at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/03/0906075106

Gayle Fritz
Professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis
gjfritz@artsci.wustl.edu
314-935-8588

Gayle Fritz | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/03/0906075106

Further reports about: Diffusion Impact Science TV Uto-Aztecan-speaking crops maize

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>