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Ancient Corncobs Unlock Riddle
Atlanta Journal Constipation ^ | 10-14-2003 | Mike Toner

Posted on 10/14/2003 3:41:39 PM PDT by blam

Ancient corncobs unlock riddle

By MIKE TONER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Prehistoric populations in the American Southwest transported corn over long distances -- and used networks of "farm to market" roads that enabled them to support large cities in areas that were unsuitable for agriculture.

New studies of ancient corncobs show that large urban complexes like Chaco Canyon that thrived a thousand years ago in New Mexico imported corn from fertile farmlands that were 50 miles or more from major population centers.

Archaeologists have long wondered how the sophisticated Chaco civilization, which built huge multistory dwellings in the high desert of north-central New Mexico, thrived in such an arid climate. The answer, in a word: imports.

Earlier research established that the Chaco people hauled by hand a quarter-million logs from the slopes of the Chuska Mountains, 50 miles to the west, to erect their "capital" city, a site now known as Pueblo Bonito. Until now, however, the question of how they fed themselves had remained a puzzle.

"This is the first time we have been able to document the importation of a food crop," said archaeologist Linda Cordell, director of the University of Colorado Museum. "It's clear that these people had a highly coordinated system for planting, harvesting, storing and distributing food. This society was infinitely more complex than anyone ever imagined."

At its height, Pueblo Bonito is thought to have supported between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Excavations of the largest building have found hundreds of rooms, turquoise ornaments, unusual cylindrical jars, finely crafted spear points and icons of tropical birds from Central America.

Beyond the central city, a network of roads led to outlying villages that were scattered across more than 23,000 square miles of the San Juan Basin.

In the past, archaeologists had assumed that a more equable climate between the 9th and 12th centuries enabled the people of Pueblo Bonito to grow their food nearby. Tree ring analysis, however, suggests the climate has changed little in the last thousand years.

The latest findings, reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that prehistoric Americans were as adept at importing their food from distant locations as later cultures.

Maize, the ancient forerunner of modern corn, was the dietary staple of the Chaco culture. Because the cobs found at Pueblo Bonito contain distinctive ratios of trace elements from the crop's water source, scientists have been able to trace them to two widely separated regions -- both 50 miles from the central city. In one crop growing region, along the floodplain of the San Juan River, there are hints that the ancient farmers may have built many miles of ditches for water diversion.

The latest discovery attests to the value of preserving archaeological resources, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Corncobs used for the latest analysis were excavated from Chaco Canyon in the late 1800s and preserved in a museum collection.

Archaeologists say trace element analysis of preserved plant materials elsewhere in the Americas -- from seeds of foodstuffs to the grass used for baskets -- may open a new window on prehistoric cultures that left no written records, enabling them to link ancient population centers with the resources they used.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; ancient; animalhusbandry; corn; corncobs; dietandcuisine; godsgravesglyphs; huntergatherers; maize; riddle; unlock

1 posted on 10/14/2003 3:41:39 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
So, how much for a taco?
2 posted on 10/14/2003 3:47:52 PM PDT by battlegearboat
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3 posted on 10/14/2003 3:48:50 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: battlegearboat
"So, how much for a taco?"

39 centavos.

I would suggest the tortilla chips and picante sauce. The tacos are meatless.

4 posted on 10/14/2003 4:09:36 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I thought for a minute this corncob report was going somewhere else! Save for later read.
5 posted on 10/14/2003 4:10:22 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Liberalism is a Sin!)
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To: blam
"Ancient Corncobs Unlock Riddle"

Yes, it's true. They were found up the rear ends of the skeletal remains of Liberals. 'Twas always such, it seems.

6 posted on 10/14/2003 4:11:59 PM PDT by RightOnline
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To: blam
Anyone know what the urban Chaco people did for a living? Did they produce some good or service to exchange for the food?
7 posted on 10/14/2003 4:25:13 PM PDT by decimon
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To: SwinneySwitch
I thought it was going to answer the riddle of what people did before Sears.
8 posted on 10/14/2003 4:27:36 PM PDT by js1138
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To: decimon
"Anyone know what the urban Chaco people did for a living? Did they produce some good or service to exchange for the food?"

There are/were a lot of kivas/religious functions at Chaco. Maybe they were donations.(?)

9 posted on 10/14/2003 4:34:37 PM PDT by blam
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To: decimon

Chetro Ketl (notice the large kiva, it's the round thing)

10 posted on 10/14/2003 4:38:54 PM PDT by blam
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To: decimon
I suspect they agreed not to kill the peasants for food. Not killing peasants-a very useful service to the peasants.
11 posted on 10/14/2003 4:43:31 PM PDT by seowulf
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To: seowulf
Not killing peasants-a very useful service to the peasants.

I am sure the peasants thought so. However I suspect that blam is right. A lot of religious activity went on in at Chaco. And a lot of astronomy.

How much would you give to have some one tell you the best time to plant (short growing season) and pray for rain? A tenth of your crop? Likely there was also a bit of barter as well and protection from other groups.

There was something out there that scared the tail feathers off of them. Real or imaginary that was one scared bunch at the end.

12 posted on 10/14/2003 4:54:45 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Ignore the propaganda, focus on what you see.)
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To: blam
I suppose all of that had to be excavated. Amazing stuff.
13 posted on 10/14/2003 5:30:20 PM PDT by decimon
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To: seowulf
I suspect they agreed not to kill the peasants for food. Not killing peasants-a very useful service to the peasants.

Yeah, that might provide me some motivation. But it would be interesting to know if the townfolk produced something. Homo economus or homo tyrannus.

14 posted on 10/14/2003 5:35:04 PM PDT by decimon
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear; seowulf; decimon
Christy Turner has done some very good work in the Chaco Area and nearly got the crap beat out of him. Read Below:

Bones Of Contention

15 posted on 10/14/2003 5:46:15 PM PDT by blam
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To: decimon
The peasants are still sending the corn to the blow hards.

Ten thousand years from now Archaeologists will be wondering how Washingtonians fed themselves with all the concrete covering the arable land.
16 posted on 10/14/2003 5:50:58 PM PDT by Sentis
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear; decimon; seowulf
BTW, Most recently, Turner has located a mummified corpolite (turd) from the Chaco period that contains digested human protein. (That shut up everyone)
17 posted on 10/14/2003 5:54:28 PM PDT by blam
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To: decimon
I've got to check my old sources on this.
From what I remember in the 80s, when they were discovering and mapping all the old roads, there was a problem. There wasn't enough garbage at these sites - the midden or dump was too small. An explanation offered at that time was that people came to these sites for seasonal ceremonies and that the rest of the time not many people lived there. Don't know if that ever got worked out, but the problem of not enough garbage for the population the size of the structures implied was clear.
Now I read that a few corn cobs have been tested to be from 50 miles away. That could be the case if people normally lived in the farm sites and then brought the corn to Chaco when they went there.
So, just because the corn is from far away doesn't mean that a huge population lived in Chaco full time.
The news article might not have all this info, but I will look for the report.
Interestingly, when I was in Chaco in 83 (or 81) at the same time as a conference, one of the archaeologists commented on how you could still look out at land and see the places where there were fields in the past because the soil was poorer there (had still not recovered). It looked that way to me also, but when you see how far apart the Hopis plant their corn compared to normal farmers, a small field would not grow much corn anyway.

Thanks for the post.
18 posted on 10/14/2003 5:54:59 PM PDT by billl
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To: blam
Cornucobia — corn of plenty
19 posted on 10/14/2003 5:59:01 PM PDT by Consort
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To: blam
PEOPLE FROM ALL over the world have admired the culture of the ancient Anasazi, believing them to have been deeply spiritual. But what if that peaceful image is wrong?

DANG but this kind of writing annoys me!

"Deeply spiritual" does NOT equal peaceful!

Carthaginians, Aztecs, Pawnee, Celts were all deeply spiritual. They were not, however, peaceful or even nice.

It is very possible for the Anasazi to be artistic and deeply spiritual and still be the most savage cruel sadistic demons in human form to ever walk on planet earth.

/rant.

I agree with Turner for the most part I will have to read more of his work to see if I totally agree.

The problem I have always had with the "peaceful people" bit is how they built their houses. You don't build houses where they did unless you have enemies. You don't build your home in such a way that a granny with a sharp stick can defend it unless you think that it could be necessary. You don't booby trap your ladders so that starting up the wrong way leaves you hanging hopelessly stuck until you fall to your death unless you expect something real nasty to come calling.

Something out there scared them.

20 posted on 10/14/2003 6:37:10 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Ignore the propaganda, focus on what you see.)
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To: farmfriend
Over here. Are you back?
21 posted on 10/14/2003 6:37:12 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Maybe.
22 posted on 10/14/2003 6:50:22 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: blam; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; annyokie; bd476; BiffWondercat; Bilbo Baggins; carenot; CatoRenasci; ..
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List for articles regarding early civilizations , life of all forms, - dinosaurs - etc.

Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this ping list.

23 posted on 10/14/2003 6:52:53 PM PDT by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: blam
So, why did the farmers give the Chaco people their corn? What did they get in return?
24 posted on 10/14/2003 7:55:55 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions
"What did they get in return?"

Spiritual guidance? (Give us corn and we won't eat you)

25 posted on 10/14/2003 8:07:52 PM PDT by blam
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To: decimon
They were trading for corn with homo grown "JERKY".
26 posted on 10/14/2003 8:12:14 PM PDT by ALinArleta
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To: blam
(Give us corn and we won't eat you)

Exactly! Something very nasty was brewing down there and a lot of archaeologists seem to need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the obvious conclusion.

27 posted on 10/14/2003 8:33:11 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions
Check out my post #15 and #17. Christy Turner has already gotten the 'goods' on this whole situation.
28 posted on 10/14/2003 8:59:38 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Could both the abandonment & the cannibalism have a common cause (e.g., a virulent madness)?
29 posted on 10/14/2003 9:06:35 PM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: Question_Assumptions
a lot of archaeologists seem to need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the obvious conclusion.

That's seems to be pretty much always the case. I suspect grant money has something to due with it.

30 posted on 10/14/2003 9:26:58 PM PDT by lizma
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To: decimon
Bingo!

What was the basis for trade?

Living in an arid and generally inhospitible place and having extensive trade suggests SOMETHING of value that was readily available to the locals.

Las Vegas aside, a pre-Colombian Vatican aside, the old people must have had something that others wanted badly.
31 posted on 10/14/2003 9:28:22 PM PDT by norton (Hey sailor, you want my seester?)
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To: P.O.E.
"Could both the abandonment & the cannibalism have a common cause (e.g., a virulent madness)?"

It gets even stranger, Dr Nancy Yaw Davis makes a compelling case in her book The Zuni Enigma that the Japanese replaced the American Indians in that area.
The Zuni language and blood type is unlike all other American Indians. The Japanese were on a search for the center of the earth and decided that they had found it there.

"For many years, anthropologists have understood the Zuni in the American Southwest to occupy a special place in Native American culture and ethnography. Their language, religion, and blood type are startlingly different from all other tribes. Most puzzling, the Zuni appear to have much in common with the people of Japan. "

32 posted on 10/14/2003 9:31:56 PM PDT by blam
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To: lizma
That's seems to be pretty much always the case. I suspect grant money has something to due with it.

Lawrence Keeley tells a very interesting story in his book War Before Civilization (which I highly recommend) about getting a previously denied grant by changing the word "fortifications" (implying warfare) to "enclosures" (implying a peaceful purpose) in his grant request. The illustration he provides showing the distribution of arrow heads that he found around one of the "enclosures" shows just how rediculous the peaceful interpretation is.

33 posted on 10/14/2003 9:48:33 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: blam
Fascinating...

See also the movie, Ravenous .

34 posted on 10/19/2003 3:37:15 PM PDT by SteveH
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To: blam
If, as Turner believes in the article, "Cultists and warriors of the Quetzalcoatl overwhelmed the local residents," then I wonder if there would be a DNA match between Chaco Canyon resident burials and Aztecs.

Likewise, it would be interesting to see if there was a DNA match between Aztecs and earlier inhabitants of the region (ie, pre-Anasazi). That would seem to help validate or help invalidate the MeCHA claim that the ancestral homeland of the Mexican people is in the southwestern U.S.

35 posted on 10/19/2003 5:13:14 PM PDT by SteveH
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To: SteveH
A DNA analysis would pretty much answer the question, I agree.
36 posted on 10/19/2003 5:32:27 PM PDT by blam
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To: Question_Assumptions; blam
It sounded like they brought wood from one location and corn from another. Could it have been a central location for trade?
37 posted on 10/19/2003 5:39:00 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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38 posted on 05/25/2010 5:42:45 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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