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  • 'Lost towns' discovered in Amazon

    09/19/2008 4:43:17 AM PDT · by Renfield · 12 replies · 326+ views
    BBC News ^ | 8-28-08
    A remote area of the Amazon river basin was once home to densely populated towns, Science journal reports. The Upper Xingu, in west Brazil, was once thought to be virgin forest, but in fact shows traces of extensive human activity. Researchers found evidence of a grid-like pattern of settlements connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas....
  • Maize (Corn) May Have Been Domesticated In Mexico As Early As 10,000 Years Ago

    06/29/2008 2:03:58 PM PDT · by blam · 29 replies · 305+ views
    Science Daily ^ | 6-27-2008 | American Society of Plant Biologists
    Maize (Corn) May Have Been Domesticated In Mexico As Early As 10,000 Years AgoVarious unusually colored and shaped maize from Latin America. (Credit: Photo by Keith Weller / courtesy of USDA/Agricultural Research Service) ScienceDaily (June 27, 2008) — The ancestors of maize originally grew wild in Mexico and were radically different from the plant that is now one of the most important crops in the world. While the evidence is clear that maize was first domesticated in Mexico, the time and location of the earliest domestication and dispersal events are still in dispute. Now, in addition to more traditional macrobotanical...
  • Ancient Mexican Maize Varieties

    06/26/2008 1:14:31 PM PDT · by blam · 2 replies · 148+ views
    Physorg ^ | American Society of Plant Biologists
    Ancient Mexican maize varieties Maize was first domesticated in the highlands of Mexico about 10,000 years ago and is now one of the most important crop plants in the world. It is a member of the grass family, which also hosts the world's other major crops including rice, wheat, barley, sorghum, and sugar cane. As early agriculturalists selected plants with desirable traits, they were also selecting genes important for transforming a wild grass into a food plant. Since that time, Mexican farmers have created thousands of varieties suitable for cultivation in the numerous environments in the Mexican landscape—from dry, temperate...
  • Corn's Roots Dig Deeper Into South America

    03/25/2008 10:31:11 AM PDT · by blam · 2 replies · 291+ views
    Eureka Alert ^ | 3-24-2008 | University of Calgary
    Contact: Grady Semmens gsemmens@ucalgary.ca 403-220-7722 University of Calgary Corn's roots dig deeper into South AmericaEarliest signs of maize as staple food found after spreading south from Mexican homeland Corn has long been known as the primary food crop in prehistoric North and Central America. Now it appears it may have been an important part of the South American diet for much longer than previously thought, according to new research by University of Calgary archaeologists who are cobbling together the ancient history of plant domestication in the New World. In a paper published in the March 24 advanced online edition of...
  • Egypt's Earliest Agricultural Settlement Unearthed

    02/15/2008 2:27:15 PM PST · by blam · 17 replies · 1,457+ views
    Science Daily ^ | 2-15-2008 | University of California - Los Angeles.
    Egypt's Earliest Agricultural Settlement UnearthedA fragment of a bangle made of a shell found only at the Red Sea suggests possible trade links with the cradle of agriculture in the Near East. (Credit: Copyright UC Regents) ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2008) — Archaeologists from UCLA and the University of Groningen (RUG) in the Netherlands have found the earliest evidence ever discovered of an ancient Egyptian agricultural settlement, including farmed grains, remains of domesticated animals, pits for cooking and even floors for what appear to be dwellings. The findings, which were unearthed in 2006 and are still being analyzed, also suggest possible...
  • Andean Crops Cultivated Almost 10,000 Years Ago

    01/17/2008 3:55:35 PM PST · by blam · 22 replies · 83+ views
    Discover Magazine ^ | 1-15-2008 | Michael Abrams
    Andean Crops Cultivated Almost 10,000 Years Ago by Michael Abrams Archaeologists have long thought that people in the Old World were planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting for a good 5,000 years before anyone in the New World did such things. But fresh evidence, in the form of Peruvian squash seeds, indicates that farming in the New and Old Worlds was nearly concurrent. In a paper the journal Science published last June, Tom Dillehay, an anthropological archaeologist at Vanderbilt University, revealed that the squash seeds he found in the ruins of what may have been ancient storage bins on the lower...
  • African Slaves Brought First Rice Riches to U.S.?

    12/20/2007 7:49:21 PM PST · by Lorianne · 45 replies · 236+ views
    National Geographic News ^ | November 28, 2007 | John Roach
    A rice variety that made many a colonial plantation owner rich was brought to the United States from West Africa, according to preliminary genetic research. The finding suggests that African slaves are responsible for nearly every facet of one of the first rice varieties grown in the U.S., as well as one of the most lucrative crops in early American history. "Not only did they bring the technology, the how-to, they brought the cultivar," said Anna McClung, a genetic researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Stuttgart, Arkansas. West Africans had been growing varieties of rice for several thousand...
  • Trying To Fathom Farming's Origins

    08/15/2007 10:42:04 AM PDT · by blam · 60 replies · 929+ views
    The Columbus Dispatch ^ | 8-14-2007 | Bradley T Lepper
    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...
  • Noah's Ark Flood Spurred European Farming

    01/24/2008 3:04:09 PM PST · by blam · 33 replies · 193+ views
    Canada West ^ | Randy Boswell
    Noah's Ark flood spurred European farmingAncient Canadian flood cascaded changes across Europe Randy Boswell , CanWest News Service Published: Monday, November 19, 2007 A British scientist has found evidence linking the catastrophic collapse of a glacial ice dam in Canada more than 8,000 years ago and the rapid spread of agriculture across Europe around the same time. The dramatic discharge of freshwater from prehistoric Lake Agassiz - which covered much of Central Canada at the end of the last ice age - has long been blamed for altering global climate patterns and raising sea levels around the world by at...
  • Squash grown 10,000 years ago in Peru

    06/28/2007 6:39:04 PM PDT · by Fred Nerks · 29 replies · 599+ views
    Yahoo ^ | Thu Jun 28, 6:09 PM ET | By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
    Squash grown 10,000 years ago in Peru By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Thu Jun 28, 6:09 PM ET WASHINGTON - Agriculture was taking root in South America almost as early as the first farmers were breaking ground in the Middle East, new research indicates. Evidence that squash was being grown nearly 10,000 years ago, in what is now Peru, is reported in Friday's edition of the journal Science. A team led by anthropologist Tom D. Dillehay of Vanderbilt University also uncovered remains of peanuts from 7,600 years ago and cotton dated to 5,500 years ago in the floors...
  • Polynesians Beat Columbus To The Americas

    06/04/2007 5:58:20 PM PDT · by blam · 84 replies · 2,081+ views
    New Scientist ^ | 6-4-2007 | Emma Young
    Polynesians beat Columbus to the Americas 22:00 04 June 2007 NewScientist.com news service Emma Young Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Prehistoric Polynesians beat Europeans to the Americas, according to a new analysis of chicken bones. The work provides the first firm evidence that ancient Polynesians voyaged as far as South America, and also strongly suggests that they were responsible for the introduction of chickens to the continent - a question that has been hotly debated for more than 30 years. Chilean archaeologists working at the site of El Arenal-1, on the Arauco Peninsula in south-central Chile, discovered what...
  • Practice Of Farming Reaches Back Farther Than Thought (Panama - 7,800YA)

    02/20/2007 11:59:10 AM PST · by blam · 25 replies · 500+ views
    Eureka Alert ^ | 2-19-2007 | Gregory Harris (University Of Calgary)
    Public release date: 19-Feb-2007 Contact: Gregory Harris gharris@ucalgary.ca 403-220-3506 University of Calgary Practice of farming reaches back farther than thoughtArchaeological 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...
  • Dental Detectives Reveal Diet If Ancient Human Ancestors

    11/09/2006 4:59:40 PM PST · by blam · 15 replies · 613+ views
    National Geographic ^ | 11-9-2006 | Sean Markey
    Dental Detectives Reveal Diet of Ancient Human Ancestors Sean Markey for National Geographic News November 9, 2006 Paranthropus robustus, a dead-end branch of the early human family tree, has been described as a "chewing machine" that was mostly jaws and not much brains. While the label may still apply, pioneering dental detective work has revealed unexpected news about the species' dietary variety. Using lasers to vaporize tiny particles of tooth enamel, researchers in the United States and Great Britain analyzed the chemical makeup of 1.8-million-year-old fossil teeth from four individuals unearthed in the Swartkrans cave site in South Africa. Different...
  • Mummy's Amazing American Maize

    02/14/2007 8:49:13 AM PST · by blam · 24 replies · 648+ views
    Alpha Galileo ^ | 2-14-2007 | U of M
    Mummy’s amazing American maize The far-reaching influence of Spanish and Portuguese colonisers appears not to have extended to South American agriculture, scientists studying Andean mummies up to 1,400 years old have found. The University of Manchester researchers working with colleagues in Buenos Aires compared the DNA of ancient maize found in the funerary offerings of the mummy and at other sites in northwest Argentina with that grown in the same region today. Surprisingly, they found both ancient and modern samples of the crop were genetically almost identical indicating that modern European influence has not been as great as previously...
  • Early human relative ate prehistoric smorgasbord

    11/09/2006 4:22:34 PM PST · by Pharmboy · 14 replies · 412+ views
    Reuters ^ | Thu Nov 9, 2006 | Will Dunham
    The skull of a bipedal hominid Paranthropus robustus is pictured in this undated photograph. The early human relative from 1.8 million years ago dined on the prehistoric equivalent of a smorgasbord -- fruit, nuts, roots, leaves and perhaps meat, according to a study that casts doubt on a key theory about its demise. (Journal Science/Handout/Reuters) An early human relative from 1.8 million years ago dined on the prehistoric equivalent of a smorgasbord -- fruit, nuts, roots, leaves and perhaps meat, according to a study that casts doubt on a key theory about its demise. The four-foot-tall, 100-pound (45-kg) bipedal...
  • Disputed collection holds keys to Machu Picchu's secrets

    06/16/2006 11:00:55 PM PDT · by nickcarraway · 14 replies · 798+ views
    physorg.com ^ | June 16, 2006 | MATT APUZZO
    Even after decades of study, Yale University's collection of relics from Machu Picchu continues to reveal new details about life in the Incan city in the clouds. The bones tell stories about the health of the Incan people. The metal tools hint at the society's technological advancement. The artifacts help scientists reconstruct ancient trade routes. Archaeologists say they've even learned that the Incan diet revolved not around the Peruvian staple of potatoes, but was based largely on maize. All this from restudying a collection that's nearly a century old. The government of Peru wants it back, saying it never relinquished...
  • Smoldered-Earth Policy: Created By Ancient Amazonian Natives, Fertile, Dark Soils. . .

    03/05/2006 3:53:54 PM PST · by blam · 8 replies · 825+ views
    Science News ^ | 3-5-2006 | Ben Harder
    Week of March 4, 2006; Vol. 169, No. 9 , p. 133 Smoldered-Earth Policy: Created by ancient Amazonian natives, fertile, dark soils retain abundant carbon Ben Harder Shortly after the U.S. Civil War, a research expedition encountered a group of Confederate expatriates living in Brazil. The refugees had quickly taken to growing sugarcane on plots of earth that were darker and more fertile than the surrounding soil, Cornell University's Charles Hartt noted in the 1870s. The same dark earth, terra preta in Portuguese, is now attracting renewed scientific attention for its high productivity, mysterious past, and capacity to store carbon....
  • Message in a Bottle [History of wine snobbery]

    12/26/2005 11:56:44 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 7 replies · 414+ views
    New York Times ^ | 12/24/05 | Tom Standage
    [ . . . ] The Romans were the first to use wine as a finely calibrated social yardstick - and thus inaugurated centuries of wine snobbery . . . Pliny the Younger, writing in the late first century A.D., described a dinner at which the host and his friends were served fine wine, second-rate wine was served to other guests, and third-rate wine was served to former slaves. [ . . . ] Just how seriously the Romans took the business of wine classification can be seen from the story of Marcus Antonius, a Roman politician who in 87...
  • Ancient Andean Maize Makers: Finds Push Back Farming, Trade In Highland Peru

    03/05/2006 3:43:23 PM PST · by blam · 14 replies · 1,116+ views
    Science News ^ | 3-5-2006 | Bruce Bower
    Week of March 4, 2006; Vol. 169, No. 9 , p. 132 Ancient Andean Maize Makers: Finds push back farming, trade in highland Peru Bruce Bower Nearly 4,000 years ago, large societies emerged in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru that would culminate 1,500 years later in the rise of the Inca civilization. Now, scientists have the first evidence that these Inca predecessors cultivated maize and imported plant foods from lowland tropical forests located 180 miles to the east. HIGH TIMES. Researchers excavate Waynuna, a site in Peru's Andes Mountains that has yielded evidence of early agriculture and food...
  • Ears of plenty (the story of wheat / The story of man's staple food)

    12/26/2005 8:42:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 49 replies · 955+ views
    The Economist ^ | Dec 20th 2005
    [W]heat is losing its crown. The tonnage (though not the acreage) of maize harvested in the world began consistently to exceed that of wheat for the first time in 1998; rice followed suit in 1999. Genetic modification, which has transformed maize, rice and soyabeans, has largely passed wheat by—to such an extent that it is in danger of becoming an "orphan crop"... And with population growth rates falling sharply while yields continue to rise, even the acreage devoted to wheat may now begin to decline for the first time since the stone age... [W]heat is a genetic monster. A typical...