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Practice Of Farming Reaches Back Farther Than Thought (Panama - 7,800YA)
Eureka Alert ^ | 2-19-2007 | Gregory Harris (University Of Calgary)

Posted on 02/20/2007 11:59:10 AM PST by blam

Public release date: 19-Feb-2007

Contact: Gregory Harris 403-220-3506
University of Calgary

Practice of farming reaches back farther than thought

Archaeological findings from Panama show agriculture's roots run deep

Ancient people living in Panama were processing and eating domesticated species of plants like maize, manioc, and arrowroot at least as far back as 7,800 years ago – much earlier than previously thought – according to new research by a University of Calgary archaeologist.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the discipline of archaeology is how and why certain human societies switched from hunting and gathering to producing their own food through agriculture. Dr. Ruth Dickau, a post-doctoral researcher in the U of C's department of archaeology, has used a new technique called starch grain analysis to recover microscopic residues of plants directly off the stone tools that people were using in Panama 3,000 to 7,800 years ago.

"These results add to the growing evidence that the earliest beginnings of farming were not centred in arid highland regions like central Mexico and the Peruvian Andes as once believed, but in the lowland areas and humid forests of the American tropics," Dickau says.

"What is particularly interesting is that these crops were originally domesticated outside of Panama; maize was domesticated in Mexico, and manioc and arrowroot in South America. Panama, as a relatively narrow land-bridge between the two American continents, was an important route for the human spread of food crops, and clearly a region where agriculture was practiced very early in history."

Dickau is the lead author of a paper appearing next week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an internationally respected academic publication. The paper is titled "Starch Grain Evidence for the Preceramic Dispersals of Maize and Root Crops into Tropical Dry and Humid Forests of Panama."

Dry, arid areas favour archaeological preservation, whereas tropical regions typically don't – especially when it comes to foodstuffs. But with starch grain analysis, researchers are able to isolate residue from microcrevices in both ground stone and flaked stone tools and identify preserved starch grains under a microscope.

"The ability of starch grain analysis to identify plant taxa in the unfavourable preservation environments of western and central Panama confirms the importance of this method for establishing the presence of particular plant species, both domesticated and wild, in the subsistence practices of early inhabitants of tropical forests," the authors write.


Much of Dickau's research was conducted as part of her graduate studies at Temple University in Philiadelphia. The second and third authors are Anthony J. Ranere (Temple University), and Richard G. Cooke (Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama).

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; ancient; animalhusbandry; arrowroot; camerica; centralamerica; civilization; corn; dietandcuisine; domestication; farming; godsgravesglyphs; huntergatherers; icallitcorn; ithmus; maize; manioc; panama; tapioca
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To: blam

"Practice Of Farming Reaches Back Farther Than Thought"

They farmed without thinking?

21 posted on 02/20/2007 5:18:55 PM PST by gcruse (
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To: Dysart
The PBS special is based on Dennis Sanford's theory that is outlined in the article linked below. BTW, Dennis is one of the people appearing in that special.

Immigrants From The Other Side (Clovis Is Solutrean?)

22 posted on 02/20/2007 5:32:35 PM PST by blam
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To: blam

Yep that was the episode i thought it was, but well worth watching again. I'd like to know what Sanford's latest research has has he found evidence that bolsters his theory or has he found contradictory evidence?

23 posted on 02/20/2007 5:58:44 PM PST by Dysart
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...
Thanks Blam. "Panama Red" ping for the libertarians. ;')

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24 posted on 02/20/2007 9:23:52 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 19, 2007.
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To: gcruse

Thought was invented some time in the Iron Age and gave rise to Smart Mouth Kids.

25 posted on 02/21/2007 1:35:47 AM PST by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

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26 posted on 05/25/2010 6:39:08 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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