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Antiquity of Maize Cultivation in Ecuador: Summary and Reevaluation of the Evidence

  • Deborah M. Pearsall (a1) and Dolores R. Piperno (a2)


La Identification of maize phytoliths from the Preceramic Vegas and Formative period Real Alto sites, Guayas Province, Ecuador, has raised the issue of the antiquity of maize in Ecuador. This paper reviews how maize is identified using phytoliths and addresses criticisms of this technique. Our reexamination of the original Vegas and Real Alto samples using Piperno's three-dimensional variant method confirms the presence of maize in western Ecuador by at least 5000 B.C. Remains of charred maize from other sites suggest that more than one race was being utilized by the Formative period.


La identificatión de fitolitos de maíz provenientes de los sitios Vegas y Real Alto (períodos Precerámico y Formativo respectivamente) Provincia del Guayas, Ecuador; a puesto en relieve la importacia de la antiguedad del maíz en el Ecuador. Este artículo revisa como el maíz fue identificado con tratamiento crítico, utilizando la técnica de fitolitos. Nuestra reexaminación de las muestras originates de aquellos sitios, aplicando el método tridimencional de Piperno, confirma que el maíz estuvo presente en el occidente del Ecuador, al menos desde el 5000 A.C.. Los restos de maíz carbonizados recuperados en otros sitios; nos sugiere que más de una raza estaba siendo utilizada durante el período Formativo.


Corresponding author

(Mailing address: STRI, A.P.O. Miami 34002) and MASCA, The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 33rd and Spruce Sts., Philadelphia, PA 19104


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Antiquity of Maize Cultivation in Ecuador: Summary and Reevaluation of the Evidence

  • Deborah M. Pearsall (a1) and Dolores R. Piperno (a2)


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