Skip to comments.Trying To Fathom Farming's Origins
Posted on 08/15/2007 10:42:04 AM PDT by blam
Trying to fathom farming's origins Tuesday, August 14, 2007 3:22 AM By Bradley T. Lepper
Tom Dillehay, an archaeologist with Vanderbilt University, and several colleagues announced last month in the journal Science that they had recovered remarkably early evidence for agriculture in South America.
Working at several sites in the Nanchoc Valley of northern Peru, they found squash seeds that were more than 9,000 years old. This is nearly twice as old as previously reported farming evidence in the region.
Dillehay and his co-authors point out that one of the most important aspects of this discovery is that "horticulture and cultural complexity developed in the Americas nearly as early as it did in many parts of the Old World."
Why should this be surprising?
Given that the civilizations of the Old and New Worlds developed independently, there is no reason to expect that peoples on opposite sides of the globe all would adopt agriculture within a short period of time.
And yet, we've known for some time that they did. Mark Nathan Cohen, anthropologist at the State University of New York, Plattsburg, wrote in 1977 that "the problem is not just to account for the beginnings of agriculture, but to account for the fact that so many human populations made this economic transition in so short a time."
The discoveries made by Dillehay and his colleagues make this problem more acute by considerably shortening the span of time involved from 4,000-5,000 years to 2,000-3,000 years.
For Cohen, the near-global synchrony of the origins of agriculture meant that understanding how and why people all suddenly turned to farming required a global explanation.
He proposed that a rapidly growing human population spread throughout the world. Continuing population growth put stress on local food supplies, which, in turn, led to farming as a way of artificially boosting food production.
Not all archaeologists agree that a global explanation is necessary. Certainly, an understanding of the problem must be based on detailed studies of local archaeological sequences, such as Dillehay and his colleagues are providing.
Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.
Did they find a 9000 year old Burpee’s Seed Catalog, too?.......
I figure people started farming about 15 minuets after discovering beer
We all know that people get hungry at different rates.
(Do I really need the /s?)
Lots of people agree with you about that.
aliens can travel preeeettyyyyyy quick ya know...
Umm...yes there is. It's called Atlantis.
Later, grape farming developed because girly men needed the grapes to make chablis...
What I wonder is why anyone thinks it is surprising that agriculture might spread around the world in a "mere" 3,000 years.
The other interesting facts, not mentioned in this article, is how very much of the agriculture we take for granted comes not from Europe/Asia but from South America. Beans, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash - it makes you wonder what Europeans ate before 1492 besides bread.
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because they didn’t have the internet to look up ‘farming’ in wikipedia :)
Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie. With manioc root presumably.
Pizza hadn’t even been invented!
How they survived is not as miraculous as why they bothered!
Another human-hating, leftist archaeologist. Ants farm aphids, is this "artificial?"
“How they survived is not as miraculous as why they bothered!”
You answered your own question. Second one from the left.
The squash seeds were found in Nanchoc Valley, about 400 miles north of Lima. Researchers also found peanut hulls and cotton fibers that date back 6,000 to 8,500 years, as well as stone hoes, furrowed garden plots and small irrigation canals.
Yeah. I thought of that as soon as I hit post.
Still, no chocolate????
The reeeeeeeeeeeeest of the story is not in original article. I see.
Sure wasn’t. Left out the most interesting parts, IMO. Wasn’t enough info in the orig article to satisfy my curiosity so I went digging.
The squash seeds were determined
to be cultivars, not wild plants, and
are more than 9,200 years old.
Well, beer is basically liquid bread (but it makes you feel sooooo much better about your day!).
I just thought of a new theory...’twas the discovery of wacky-baccy that led to civilisation. Getting the munchies necessitated agriculture, a steady, readily available supply of foodstuffs, which of course led immediately thereafter to the invention of beer to wash it all down. Then paper for rolling was invented...and the rest is history. QED
Back about 20 years ago, I was a “research analyst” in charge of the wood science lab at the University of Kentucky (the job wasn’t as prestigious as it sounds...they paid me starvation wages). One of my duties was to identify wood (by species) from samples that were brought to the lab.
Dr. Dillehay was then at the University of Kentucky, and deep into his research at the pre-Clovis site at Monte Verde in Chile. One day he sent over a small sample of something he’d found at Monte Verde, wondering if I could identify it for him.
It was a most curious object. It appeared to have wood structure (even under 20X magnification), but it was not wood. It appeared to be made of some dark lustrous metal, like a lead-antimony alloy; although it was harder than linotype. I couldn’t scratch it with anything, so it was probably at least as hard as tungsten. It was a complete mystery to me, and I had to return it to Dr. Dillehay with no conjecture as to its origin or nature.
Observation and inference, I should think, would only be necessary to move men to organize the growing of things.
Some wild fruit or something such as a pumpkin producing growth as a result of rotting away in one spot would be all it would take to fire the mind of any reasonably intelligent person. I’d bet that the degree of order imposed upon farming (and the resulting yields) might vary more than the fact of farming itself coming along.
Discarded UFO part?
Then why didn't men of 20 or 100 or 200 thousand years ago figure it out?
A legit answer is "they did, we just haven't found the evidence yet." It would account for how farming apparently developed at the same time all around the world. Naturally then the question is, why does it appear that farming developed so recently?
No. I tried to think of some way that dissolved metallic minerals could have moved through groudwater and replaced the organic materials in a piece of wood, but couldn’t reconcile the minerals able to complete this proces (silicates) with the metallic image of the piece.
Maybe a meteorite chunk? For some reason I’m having a “The Gods Must Be Crazy” flashback. ;’)
Just common sense says that it would go up because you wouldn't stop hunting and gathering in addition to farming. I mean, I farm but I still go to the grocery store.
The only thing I could come up with is that they were then stationary and their enemies knew where to find them.
“Very few of these clamps have survived but analysis of those from Pre-Columbian America show them to be made of a very unusual alloy - 2.05% arsenic, 95.15% copper, O.26% iron, 0.84% silicon and l.70% nickel. There is no source of nickel anywhere in Bolivia. Also the rare alloy of nickel-bronze-arsenic requires extremely high temperatures. The Puma Punks bracket holes, when analyzed, showed platinum, a metal which only melts at 1753 C and aluminium, which supposeedly wasn’t discovered and produced in quantity until the 19th century...”
Stone Technology images on the website.
I was just ‘funning ya’, Renfield.
1.Imprint of metal clamp frequently encountered at the Puma Punku 2.Imprint of metal clamp seen on the blocks at Ollantaytambo 3.Imprint of metal clamp on stone structures at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
They all had to eat!
I’m reminded of the Florida Everglades. Where did all the people who built this ‘stuff’ go?
Not so, according to the Weston A. Price foundation
"Pullets; Boiled capon; Shoulder of mutton; Veal roast; Boiled chickens; Rabbits roast; Shoulder of mutton roast; Chine of beef roast; Pasty of venison; Turkey roast; Pig roast; Venison roast; Ducks boiled; Pullet; Red deer pye cold; Four capons roast; Poults [young chickens] roast; Pheasant; Herons; Mutton boiled; Wild boar pye; Jiggits of mutton boiled; Jiggits of mutton burred [buttered]; Gammon of bacon; Chicken pye; Burred [buttered] capon; Dried hog's cheek; Umble pye; Tart; Made dish.
Thus read the menu for a Monday morning breakfast served in honor of King James I's visit to the northern English town of Preston in August of 1607. Dinner the previous evening featured thirty dishes for the first course and twenty-seven in the second.
Travelers of less exalted station did not find such elaborate banquets at the end of their day's journey but nevertheless expected a variety of meats for their evening meal. John Byng, a guest at the White Swan Inn at Middleham in 1792 made the following inscription in his dairy: "I now felt a haste for dinner, and this is a description of it: Cold ham; A boiled fowl; Yorkshire pudding; Gooseberry pye; Loyn of mutton roast; Cheesecake."1
Ah. Clearly ironwood...
How about tobacco, chocolate, vanilla?
Where did all the people who built this 'stuff' go?
I ask myself that same question every time I look at anything to do with pre-Columbian South America.
for example, the above image of Saxsayhuaman shows how massive the complex really is. That jigsaw outline in the above image is the wall we usually see depicted:
have you downloaded Google Earth yet? I can give you some links to truly stunning images. Massive earthern walls, hundreds of miles of canals...ancient terraces and ruins.
BTW, he first caught a glimpse of that area from a commercial jet.
They went fishin'.
fifty million wouldn’t be too much of stretch...
Until the 1960s most researchers thought that when Columbus landed the entire hemisphere held only a few million people. Now most (though not all) believe the actual count was much, much higher. The highest scholarly estimate Ive seen is 140 million, though only a small percentage of researchers think the number could be that high. A more widely accepted figure now is 40-60 million. Note, though, that the ‘widely accepted’ number keeps rising as new information comes in. I wouldnt be surprised if the consensus figure ended up being 80 million...
Now, why didn’t I think of that?
Dunno. Too close to the problem, maybe?