Skip to comments.Clues to Prehistoric Human Exploration Found in Sweet Potato Genome
Posted on 01/21/2013 8:39:59 PM PST by Theoria
Europeans raced across oceans and continents during the Age of Exploration in search of territory and riches. But when they reached the South Pacific, they found they had been beaten there by a more humble traveler: the sweet potato. Now, a new study suggests that the plant's genetics may be the key to unraveling another great age of exploration, one that predated European expansion by several hundred years and remains an anthropological enigma.
Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and previous generations of scholars believed that Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the crop to Southeast Asia and the Pacific beginning in the 16th century. But in recent years, archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting another hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them. The oldest carbonized sample of the crop found by archaeologists in the Pacific dates to about 1000 C.E.nearly 500 years before Columbus's first voyage. What's more, the word for "sweet potato" in many Polynesian languages closely resembles the Quechua word for the plant.
Studying the genetic lineage of the sweet potato directly has proved difficult, however. European traders exported varieties of sweet potato from Mexico and the Caribbean to the Pacific, and those breeds mixed with the older Polynesian varieties, obscuring their genetic history. Therefore, it's difficult to apply information culled from modern samples to older varieties without a prehistoric control. Now a team of researchers working with France's Centre of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology and CIRAD, a French agricultural research and development center, has identified one such temporal control: sweet potato samples preserved in herbariums assembled by the first European explorers to visit many Polynesian islands.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.sciencemag.org ...
Ping...Saw your post last night about carbs and prehistoric man and thought this might be up your alley. :)
After that, the Polynesians completely forgot how to get to Lima coz they ain`t been back since, if they ever sailed there at all? Why would they suddenly stop?
After all, sweet potato pie is a hot selling item in Tahiti.
What’s The Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?
Is this GGG worthy?
Maybe the only thing they thought worth it was the potato, and they now grow them back in Polynesia.
I yam what I yam...
Yeah. Kon Tiki was a great book.
I thunk the Peruvians sailed with the sweet potatoes to Polynesia on a round-trip reed-boat vacation but got eaten by cannibals. And I can Peruv it.
No doubt they were there to peruse...
Quechua and eatsua if I can.; yams on the side.
Why'd they stop coming? Fear, probably. Warfare; or disease (human, animal, food); or competing pagan ceremonies they didn't care for or didn't want to import.
“Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago”
Prior to that the taters ran wild in roaming hordes.
They had to catch them while they were still tater tots. Hard to milk those suckers too.
I think potatoes may have been boiled, mashed & stewed for far longer than that...
I’m wondering...did they bring back Lima beans too?
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Thanks Theoria, and thanks HiTech RedNeck, martin_fierro, and mikrofon.
Thanks for posting. It’s interesting to think about possible Polynesia/South America interactions.