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Ancient Humans Brought Bottle Gourds To The Americas From Asia
Harvard University/Eureka Alert ^ | 12-13-2005 | Steve Brandt

Posted on 12/13/2005 11:12:17 AM PST by blam

Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University

Ancient humans brought bottle gourds to the Americas from Asia

Plants widely used as containers arrived, already domesticated, some 10,000 years ago

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 13, 2005 -- Thick-skinned bottle gourds widely used as containers by prehistoric peoples were likely brought to the Americas some 10,000 years ago by individuals who arrived from Asia, according to a new genetic comparison of modern bottle gourds with gourds found at archaeological sites in the Western Hemisphere.

The finding solves a longstanding archaeological enigma by explaining how a domesticated variant of a species native to Africa ended up millennia ago in places as far removed as modern-day Florida, Kentucky, Mexico and Peru.

The work, by a team of anthropologists and biologists from Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, Massey University in New Zealand and the University of Maine, appears this week on the web site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Integrating genetics and archaeology, the researchers assembled a collection of ancient remnants of bottle gourds from across the Americas. They then identified key genetic markers from the DNA of both the ancient gourds and their modern counterparts in Asia and Africa before comparing the plants' genetic make-up to determine the origins of the New World gourds.

"For 150 years, the dominant theory has been that bottle gourds, which are quite buoyant and have no known wild progenitors in the Americas, floated across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa and were picked up and used as containers by people here," says Noreen Tuross, the Landon T. Clay Professor of Scientific Archaeology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
"Much to our surprise, we found that in every case the gourds found in the Americas were a genetic match with modern gourds found in Asia, not Africa.
This suggests quite strongly that the gourds that were used as containers in the Americas for thousands of years before the advent of pottery were brought over from Asia."

The researchers say it's possible the domesticated gourds -- differentiated from wild bottle gourds by a much thicker rind -- were conveyed to North America by people who arrived from Asia in boats or who walked across an ancient land bridge between the continents, or that the gourds floated across the Bering Strait after being transported by humans from their native Africa to far northeastern Asia.

"This finding paints a new picture of the founding of the Americas," says co-author Bruce Smith of the Smithsonian Institution. "These people did not arrive here empty-handed; they brought a domesticated plant and dogs with them. They arrived with important tools necessary to survive and thrive on a new continent, including some knowledge of and experience with plant domestication."

Thought to have originated in Africa, bottle gourds (Lagenaria sicereria) have been grown worldwide for thousands of years. The gourds have little food value but their strong, hard-shelled fruits were long prized as containers, musical instruments and fishing floats. This lightweight "container crop" would have been particularly useful to human societies before the advent of pottery and settled village life, and was apparently domesticated thousands of years before any plant was domesticated for food purposes.

Radiocarbon dating indicates that bottle gourds were present in the Americas by 10,000 years ago and widespread by 8,000 years ago. Some of the specimens studied by the team were not only the oldest bottle gourds ever found but also quite possibly the oldest plant DNA ever analyzed.
The newest of their archaeological samples, a specimen found in Kentucky, was just 1,000 years old -- suggesting the gourds were used in the New World as containers for at least 9,000 years.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africa; agriculture; americas; ancient; animalhusbandry; asia; bottle; bottlegourd; brought; domestication; florida; godsgravesglyphs; gourds; humans; kentucky; lagenariasicereria; maine; mexico; newzealand; peru; precolumbian

1 posted on 12/13/2005 11:12:18 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 12/13/2005 11:12:51 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

Interesting, explains why Asians are out of their gourds.


3 posted on 12/13/2005 11:15:09 AM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: blam

And the "Buy American" bumper sticker were invented shortly thereafter. ;o)


4 posted on 12/13/2005 11:16:15 AM PST by LIConFem (A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi.)
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To: blam

Worship...the Gourd!!!


5 posted on 12/13/2005 11:16:27 AM PST by rightinthemiddle (I might be wrong, but I'm always right.)
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To: Semper Paratus
Interesting, explains why Asians are out of their gourds.

Also explains why my Asian ex-wife is out of her gourd.

6 posted on 12/13/2005 11:17:02 AM PST by neodad (Rule Number 1: Be Armed)
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To: blam

I wondered where those came from.


7 posted on 12/13/2005 11:17:11 AM PST by atomicpossum (Replies should be as pedantic as possible. I love that so much.)
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To: blam

Must have been before the tariffs got so high.


8 posted on 12/13/2005 11:17:49 AM PST by VRWCmember
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To: blam
"Much to our surprise, we found that in every case the gourds found in the Americas were a genetic match with modern gourds found in Asia, not Africa. This suggests quite strongly that the gourds that were used as containers in the Americas for thousands of years before the advent of pottery were brought over from Asia.""

So, why isn't it a more plausable position to insist Asians came here, copied America's gourds, and took them back to Asia? (They copy evrything else....)

9 posted on 12/13/2005 11:18:07 AM PST by azhenfud (He who always is looking up seldom finds others' lost change.)
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To: azhenfud

This would imply that even thousands of years ago the Asians had a comparative advantage in the production of gourds.


10 posted on 12/13/2005 11:19:33 AM PST by VRWCmember
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To: blam
their strong, hard-shelled fruits were long prized as containers, musical instruments and fishing floats.

The Jug Band is one of the oldest forms of American musical production.

11 posted on 12/13/2005 11:20:50 AM PST by RightWhale (Not transferable -- Good only for this trip)
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To: RightWhale

yea and 80% of the fun was drinkin the jug dry before using it for music...:)


12 posted on 12/13/2005 11:22:32 AM PST by GeorgiaDawg32 (Islam is a religion of peace and they'll behead 13 year old girls to prove it...)
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To: rightinthemiddle
Worship...the Gourd!!!

No, it' the SHOE! It is a sign to follow the SHOE!

13 posted on 12/13/2005 11:24:30 AM PST by MarineBrat (Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.)
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To: azhenfud
They copy evrything else....

Well, they didn't copy Ford's Quality Control Program, did they?

14 posted on 12/13/2005 11:25:48 AM PST by Grut
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To: blam

how do they know it wasn't the other way around!


15 posted on 12/13/2005 11:26:21 AM PST by jrd
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To: blam

"Ancient Humans Brought Bottle Gourds To The Americas From Asia"

That question has been dogging me all week. Thanks.


16 posted on 12/13/2005 11:27:58 AM PST by Buck W. (Yesterday's Intelligentsia are today's Irrelevantsia.)
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To: atomicpossum

Ancient writings explained that the people were seen yelling "Wilson" as they let the gourds float off into the sunset.


17 posted on 12/13/2005 11:30:17 AM PST by reagandemo (The battle is near are you ready for the sacrifice?)
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To: VRWCmember

Or Asians had perfected the art of gourd-smuggling.


18 posted on 12/13/2005 11:31:36 AM PST by azhenfud (He who always is looking up seldom finds others' lost change.)
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To: MarineBrat

"I want to have babies."


19 posted on 12/13/2005 11:32:37 AM PST by rightinthemiddle (I might be wrong, but I'm always right.)
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To: blam
Fascinating. I had wondered about the similarity of gourds found in the Southwestern USA desert and Southeast Asian gardens. They are heavily used in Asia today.
20 posted on 12/13/2005 11:34:52 AM PST by JimSEA (America cannot have an exit strategy from the world.)
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To: blam

Do you have anything to declare?
Yes, I have these large American jugs.


21 posted on 12/13/2005 11:36:05 AM PST by tumblindice (I'm not left, I'm in the middle, and I just happen to be right.)
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To: JimSEA
Just an afterthought, musical rattles in Southeast Asia and as used by Pueblo Indians (ie. Hopi and Zuni) seem identical.
22 posted on 12/13/2005 11:37:16 AM PST by JimSEA (America cannot have an exit strategy from the world.)
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To: rightinthemiddle
"I want to have babies."

Have you got a womb?

23 posted on 12/13/2005 11:39:24 AM PST by MarineBrat (Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.)
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To: MarineBrat

I'm going to carry it around in a box.


24 posted on 12/13/2005 11:41:54 AM PST by rightinthemiddle (I might be wrong, but I'm always right.)
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To: blam

i thought this was a thread about robert byrd


25 posted on 12/13/2005 11:42:47 AM PST by InsureAmerica (Evil? I have many words for it. We are as dust, to them. - v v putin)
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To: azhenfud
You're quite right. The origination is interchangeable.

Talked to a farmer this year about gourds. Never realized that the same color/shape came from the same plant and he could propogate a certain shape/color by selection.....which is what he does.

26 posted on 12/13/2005 11:46:26 AM PST by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: rightinthemiddle

Larks' tongues. Otters' noses. Ocelot spleens.

27 posted on 12/13/2005 12:01:16 PM PST by MarineBrat (Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.)
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To: MarineBrat

Repeat after me: We Are All Individuals.


28 posted on 12/13/2005 12:05:29 PM PST by rightinthemiddle (I might be wrong, but I'm always right.)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; asp1; ...
Thanks Blam.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

29 posted on 12/13/2005 12:20:59 PM PST by SunkenCiv ("In silence, and at night, the Conscience feels that life should soar to nobler ends than Power.")
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To: blam
What about the Japanese Current?

If it works for the Japanese glass net-floats my family used to pick up on the Oregon beaches prior to & during WWII, why wouldn't it work for these?

30 posted on 12/13/2005 2:55:27 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (Islam: a Satanically Transmitted Disease, spread by unprotected intimate contact with the Koranus.)
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To: Sacajaweau
". Never realized that the same color/shape came from the same plant and he could propogate a certain shape/color by selection.....which is what he does."

How does he do that?

31 posted on 12/13/2005 3:11:34 PM PST by blam
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To: ApplegateRanch
"If it works for the Japanese glass net-floats my family used to pick up on the Oregon beaches prior to & during WWII, why wouldn't it work for these?"

Didn't the glass net-floats begin their voyage from far out to sea?

32 posted on 12/13/2005 3:13:56 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
"These people did not arrive here empty-handed; they brought a domesticated plant and dogs with them. They arrived with important tools necessary to survive and thrive on a new continent, including some knowledge of and experience with plant domestication."

Duh, major discovery?. I guess you would too if you were crossing the behring straits on the ice or in a canoe!!!

33 posted on 12/13/2005 3:17:33 PM PST by beebuster2000
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To: blam
Thick-skinned bottle gourds widely used as containers by prehistoric peoples were likely brought to the Americas some 10,000 years ago by individuals who arrived from Asia

Archaeologists noted that some of the gourds served as 12 ounce containers, while others held 16 ounces. Most were found areas believed to be the site of ancient athletic contests.

34 posted on 12/13/2005 3:23:56 PM PST by GreenHornet
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To: blam
"Bottle Gourds".
From asia.
Brought here 10,000 years ago, huh.

...no kidding? :o)

35 posted on 12/13/2005 3:24:18 PM PST by Landru (If a sucker's born every minute, that's a lotta suckers.)
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To: LIConFem; Toddsterpatriot

10,000 year-long trade deficit in gourds.


36 posted on 12/13/2005 3:25:50 PM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: blam

I honestly don't know, but would assume (BAD word; BAD!) fairly close in to the islands.

OTOH, they could have been lost in or near the Aleutians.

Still my point was they always tend to think things only float one direction: east to west; Old World to New.


37 posted on 12/13/2005 4:03:23 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (Islam: a Satanically Transmitted Disease, spread by unprotected intimate contact with the Koranus.)
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


38 posted on 08/14/2011 8:39:25 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam
Thick-skinned bottle gourds widely used as containers by prehistoric peoples were likely brought to the Americas some 10,000 years ago by individuals who arrived from Asia

This is possibly the earliest documented example of Take-Out.

39 posted on 08/14/2011 8:51:07 AM PDT by GreenHornet
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