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Studies in Archaeological Maize I: The “Wild” Maize from San Marcos Cave Reexamined

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Bruce F. Benz
Affiliation:
Laboratorio Natural Las Joyas de la Sierra de Manantlan, Universidad de Guadalajara, Apartado Postal 1-3933, Guadalajara, Jalisco C.P. 44100, México
Hugh H. Iltis
Affiliation:
Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

Abstract

Cobs of the earliest known archaeological maize from San Marcos Cave in the Tehuacan Valley were reexamined to estimate their morphological similarity to extant Mexican maize races. Cursory examination of these 7,000-year-old specimens aroused suspicion that they are not very closely related morphologically to any thus-far-described modern Mexican race. Statistical comparison of the Tehuacan specimens with 30 races of Mexican maize fully confirmed this suspicion. However, the inclusion in our statistical analysis of an extant race of popcorn from Argentina morphologically similar to the Tehuacan specimens indicated that the two were virtually indistinguishable. These findings imply that the earliest maize from Tehuacan already was fully domesticated, its cobs exhibiting a morphology one would expect had maize evolved from teosinte by way of catastrophic sexual transmutation (Iltis 1983).

Résumé

Résumé

Los olotes más antiguos de la cueva San Marcos del valle de Tehuacán se examinan aquí para estimar su semejanza morfológica con razas de maíz méxicano modernas. Un estudio general de estos especímenes, que supuestamente tienen una edad de 7.000 años, nos hizo suponer que éstos no guardan mucha similitud con ninguna raza mexicana moderna descrita hasta hoy. Comparación estadística de los especímenes de Tehuacán con 30 razas de maíz conftrmó por completo esta suposición, sin embargo, al incluir en nuestros análisis estadísticos una raza de maíz reventón de Argentina morfologicamente similar a los especímenes de Tehuacán, encontramos que estos son virtualmente indistinguibles. Estos resultados implican que el maíz más antiguo de Tehuacán representa una especie que yafue domesticada, mostrando sus olotes una morfología que uno esperaría si el maíz evolucionara de teosinte por medio de transmutación sexual catastrófica (Iltis 1983).

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 1990

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