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Topic: Sweet Potato's

Europeans raced across oceans and continents during the Age of Exploration in search of territory and riches. But when they reached the South Pacific, they found they had been beaten there by a more humble traveler: the sweet potato. Now, a new study suggests that the plant's genetics may be the key to unraveling another great age of exploration, one that predated European expansion by several hundred years and remains an anthropological enigma.

Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and previous generations of scholars believed that Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the crop to Southeast Asia and the Pacific beginning in the 16th century. But in recent years, archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting another hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them. The oldest carbonized sample of the crop found by archaeologists in the Pacific dates to about 1000 C.E.—nearly 500 years before Columbus's first voyage. What's more, the word for "sweet potato" in many Polynesian languages closely resembles the Quechua word for the plant.

Studying the genetic lineage of the sweet potato directly has proved difficult, however. European traders exported varieties of sweet potato from Mexico and the Caribbean to the Pacific, and those breeds mixed with the older Polynesian varieties, obscuring their genetic history. Therefore, it's difficult to apply information culled from modern samples to older varieties without a prehistoric control.

Now a team of researchers working with France's Centre of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology and CIRAD, a French agricultural research and development center, has identified one such temporal control: sweet potato samples preserved in herbariums assembled by the first European explorers to visit many Polynesian islands. The study, which is published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides strong evidence for prehistoric contact between Polynesia and South America.

By analyzing genetic markers specific to sweet potatoes in both modern samples of the plant and older herbarium specimens, the researchers discovered significant differences between varieties found in the western Pacific versus the eastern Pacific. This finding supports the so-called tripartite hypothesis, which argues that the sweet potato was introduced to the region three times: first through premodern contact between Polynesia and South America, then by Spanish traders sailing west from Mexico, and Portuguese traders coming east from the Caribbean. The Spanish and Portuguese varieties ended up in the western Pacific, while the older South American variety dominated in the east, which would explain the genetic differences the French team saw.

The decision to analyze herbarium specimens is "innovative" and provides another piece of strong evidence for the tripartite hypothesis, says archaeologist Patrick Kirch, of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study. Lead author Caroline Roullier emphasizes that although her genetic analysis alone doesn't prove that premodern Polynesians made contact with South America, it strongly supports the existing archaeological and linguistic evidence pointing to that conclusion. "It's the combination of all different kinds of proof" that's really convincing, she says. Anthropologist Richard Scaglion of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania agrees, "All the lines of evidence coming together … really strengthens the case" for Polynesian contact with South America.

Original article:
news.sciencemag.org

By Lizzie Wade, jan 21, 2013

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Topic: Inca Foods

By Manuel Villacorta is a nationally recognized, award-winning registered  dietitian

Growing up in Peru, we ate many foods that you don?t see as often in the  United States. Quinoa, for instance, was everywhere?we used it to feed both  people and chickens! In recent years many of the foods I remember from a Latin  American diet have become available in the US, and it turns out they have highly  beneficial nutritional profiles. That they do should come as no surprise?many of  these are the foods of the Incas, on which those great people built a vast  empire. Today I want to introduce you to the five food wonders of the Incan  world, and suggest you try them out for yourself.

The Incan empire is less familiar perhaps than the Romans, but it shouldn?t  be; by the 16th century its borders extended from Machu Picchu in Peru north to  Ecuador and south along the Andes through modern-day Chile and Argentina. The  Incas had to manage a huge territory, including communicating across vast  distances, so it?s no wonder they were known for their fighting skills, their  endurance, and their strength. Clearly, they benefited from some good nutrition!  In fact, with an empire whose beginning pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in  the Americas, the Incas were fueled by a diet made up of nutritionally dense,  New World foods. Here are five of them.

1. Quinoa: The Incas called this staple of their diet Chehisaya mama,  meaning ?mother of all grains,? and yet quinoa is not actually a grain?it?s a  seed. And what a seed it is: one cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein, is high  in calcium, protein, and iron, and is a good source of Vitamin C as well as  several B-Vitamins. It is high on the lycine/thiamine system, so in combination  with other grains it creates complete proteins. Best of all, it?s incredibly  easy to make, and versatile to eat.  Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes with  two cups of liquid to a cup of quinoa. (Check out my YouTube demonstration on  how to cook quinoa.) Use it as a rice substitute in stir fries, pair it with  fish and vegetables to make a complete entr�e, or put it in a salad or under a  soup as a carbohydrate source. It?s even a breakfast food?boil it with milk, add  walnuts and blueberries, and it?s a delicious alternative to oatmeal.

2. Kiwicha: You may already know this seed by its more common  North American name, amaranth. It?s often called ?mini-quinoa,? but kiwicha is a  much smaller seed. It is very high in protein and has a more complete profile of  amino acids than most other grains, and it is rich in iron, manganese,  magnesium, phosphoros, and copper?minerals essential to healthy physical  functioning. Adding kiwicha to your diet can help decrease plasma cholesterol,  stimulate your immune system, and potentially even inhibit tumors. It also  improves hypertension and reduces blood glucose. In short, it can help support  your body?s essential systems. Kiwicha is like quinoa in one other respect?how  it?s cooked. Prepare just as you would quinoa or rice, and eat it in a  pilaf-like salad. Delicious!

3. Pichuberry: This small, smooth fruit is known in Peru as ?Inca berry,? but it was so  successfully spread by the Spanish after their conquest of the Americas that in  Africa it?s known as the Africa berry, and in Australia it?s called a Cape  gooseberry. Its health benefits are manifest: the pichuberry contains powerful  antioxidants and twenty times the Vitamin-C of an orange; it boosts immunity and  vitality, and there is even promising research suggesting it prevents cellular  aging and the onset of cancer. In Peru it is known as the anti-diabetic fruit  because it reduces blood sugar by stimulating the production of insulin. And its  nutrient profile (Provitamin A, B-Complex vitamins, thiamine, nyacine,  phosphoros) is associated with liver fortification, lung strength, fertility,  and food absorption. It makes a great salad when paired with quinoa, tastes  incredible with dark chocolate, and is a delicious replacement for blueberries  on your morning oatmeal.

pichuberries

4. Sacha Inchi: These seeds of the Inchi plant are often called  Inca-peanuts, and they are one of the best plant sources for the Omega family of  fatty acids. With 48% Omega-3, 36% Omega-6, and rich supplies of Iodine, Vitamin  A, and Vitamin E, the Inca-peanut has major health benefits in terms of  restoring your lipid balance, encouraging the production of HDL (high-density  lipoprotein, responsible for transporting lipids through your bloodstream), and  fighting conditions like heart disease and diabetes. You can certainly eat Sacha  Inchi like you would other nuts, but you might prefer to buy the oil and use it  to dress salads in place of olive oil (with its low burning-point, it is  somewhat tricky to use as a cooking oil).

5. Purple Potatoes: Potatoes are a remarkably diverse and nutritious  New World food?in Peru there are over 3,000 kinds! The one that was particularly  eaten by the Incas was the purple potato, which has started to appear in North  American supermarkets. The anthocyanins in the potatoes give them their  distinctive purple/blue color; these natural chemicals are flaminoids?substances  with powerful anti-cancer and heart protective effects. Flaminoids also  stimulate the immune system and protect against age-related memory loss. These  potatoes are delicious, with a distinctive nutty, earthy, slightly bitter  flavor. I prefer to roast them:  I use a pump mister filled with olive or  peanut oil?not an artificial cooking spray?to lightly spritz the quartered  potatoes, which I then spread in a roasting pan, sprinkle with kosher salt and a  little garlic powder or Italian seasonings, and roast for about 15 minutes at  400 degrees. Once the potatoes are cooked they are a great carb source for a  variety of meals; I make a batch on Sunday, and use them through the week  scrambled with eggs for breakfast, in a salad for lunch, or reheated with  chicken or fish for dinner.

All of these delicious foods have begun making an appearance in North  American supermarkets, and are still in the fully natural, nutritious state they  were in when they sustained the Incas through the building of a great empire.  Try them out. Your health and your taste buds will thank you.

Original article:

latino.foxnews.com

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Topic Ancient popcorn

 

Popcorn

 

A new study suggests that people living along the coast of northern Peru were eating popcorn 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Researchers say corncobs found at an ancient site in Peru suggest that the inhabitants used them for making flour and popcorn.

Scientists from Washington’s Natural History Museum say the oldest corncobs they found dated from 4700BC.

They are the earliest ever discovered in South America.

Ancient food

The curator of New World archaeology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, Dolores Piperno, says maize was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass.

Ms Piperno says that her team’s research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that only a few thousand years later maize arrived in South America, where it evolved into different varieties now common in the Andean regions.

Her team discovered the maize in the archaeological sites of Paredones and Huaca Prieta.

“This evidence further indicated that in many areas corn arrived before pots did, and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery,” Ms Piperno explained.

She says that at the time, though, maize was not yet an important part of their diet.

Original Article:

bbc.co.uk

Jan 18, 2012

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Topic Pre-Ceramic Peru gave rise to the earliest signs of agriculture

Ancient Peru: The Origins of Culture | Popular Archaeology – exploring the past.

Original article

By Kimberly Munro  Sun, Aug 28, 2011

 

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Topic:  Trapped in Amber

fossilized insect remains preserved in amber for over 23 million years,

Researchers in Peru said Tuesday they have discovered the remains of ancient insects and sunflower seeds trapped inside amber dating from the Miocene epoch, some 23 million years ago.

The rare find was made in the remote mountainous jungle region near Peru’s northern border with Ecuador, paleontologist Klaus Honninger told AFP.

“These new discoveries are very important, because the insects and sunflower seeds confirm the type of climate that existed during the Miocene period,” Honninger said in a telephone interview from the northern city of Chiclayo.

The paleontologists discovered “hundreds of pieces of amber up to 12 centimeters (five inches) large containing several types of insects,” Honninger said.

The insects trapped in the amber — fossilized tree resin — are extremely well preserved and include ancient beetles, barklice, flies and spiders.

Honninger, director of the Chiclayo-based Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum, said that the experts discovered “an unknown species of arachnid” with a head like a dog and legs four times longer than the body.

The discovery was made in April in the Santiago River area of northern Peru.

Extreme climate change from the Miocene epoch (23 to five million years ago) was likely the reason the insects became extinct, Honninger said.

The same team of researchers announced in January it had discovered a fossilized squid from the Cretaceous era (145 to 65 million years ago) some 3,700 meters (12,100 feet) above sea level in the Maranon River Valley, also in far northern Peru.

Original Article:

yahoonews

August 2011

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Topic : Ancient Peruvian agriculture practices

 

The coastal desert of Peru. (Wikimedia Commons)

 
What do the characters in The Grapes of Wrath, Icelandic shepherds in the Middle Ages and ancient Peruvians have in common? They all suffered from the effects of intensive agriculture on sensitive environments.

Throughout human history unsustainable agricultural practices have turned fragile ecosystems into wastelands and left people starving. During the Dust Bowl, American farmers learned the consequences of removing the deep rooted grasses from the Great Plains when the soil blew away in tremendous dust storms. Icelandic shepherds learned that the sheep rearing practices their ancestors used on the European mainland destroyed the thin soils of their island and left them with starving herds and little to eat.

The ancient inhabitants of what is now Peru also learned the unhappy consequences of farming in a delicate ecosystem. The Ica Valley, near the coast of southern Peru and the famous Nazca lines, is now a barren desert, but was once a fertile floodplain, anchored by the roots of the huarango tree.

People were able to raise a variety of crops there for several centuries. But intensive agriculture in pre-conquest times led to ecosystem collapse. The history of the land was recently reconstructed by bioarcheologist David Beresford-Jones of the University of Cambridge by looking at plant remains left in ancient garbage heaps.

Beresford-Jones and a team of archeologists studied plant remains associated with settlement sites spanning roughly 750 B.C. to 1000 A.D. They observed the change as the valley inhabitants went from eating mostly gathered foods, to a period of intense agriculture, then back again to surviving on what they could eke out of nature’s diminished bounty.

“The farmers inadvertently crossed an ecological threshold and the changes became irreversible,” says Dr. David Beresford-Jones of the University of Cambridge.

Farming the Ica Valley was possible because of the huarango tree woodland, which literally held the floodplain together. The roots of the tree physically anchored the soils and protected the ground from erosion. The trees also maintained fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air and keeping moisture in the soil.

But as more land was cleared for crop production, so much of the woodland was cleared that the huarango’s benefits were lost. The land was then exposed to floods from El Niño events and strong winds parched the land when it wasn’t flooded.
Clearing the land of trees in order to grow crops had inadvertently and ironically made it impossible to grow crops.

Earlier residents of the valley had survived largely on land snails, along with sea urchins and mussels gathered from the Pacific coast, an eight-hour walk to the west. The researchers found no evidence of domesticated crops in the refuse heaps, called middens, left by these early inhabitants.

Things started to change around 100 B.C. Remains from crops, including pumpkins, maize, and manioc tubers, began appearing in the garbage heaps. Within a few hundred years there was more intensive agriculture. People added beans, peanuts, and chili peppers to their menus.

The feast didn’t last long though. After about 500 years of agriculture, the domesticated crops disappeared. People once again survived on only snails and seafood with some wild plants.

In less than two thousand years, the people went full circle and ended up eating what their ancestors had, but without the huarango forests. To this day, the land is barren, with only the ghostly outlines of irrigation canals to suggest that the land once supported an agrarian society.

Further evidence of the change is found in the disappearance of the use of a blue dye from the indigofera shrub. The shrub grows only in the shelter of huarango trees along waterways. The peoples of the Ica Valley frequently sported clothes dyed a rich blue between 100 and 400 A.D. But as agriculture increased, the use of the dye decreased, suggesting the indigofera’s habitat was also disappearing. Seeds from the shrub also became rare in the archeological record.

The indigofera eventually disappeared from the lower Ica Valley, but other plants became more common. Grasses that thrive in open areas became more common as the trees were cut down. Weeds that sprout in soil disturbed by agriculture also became more common.

The study of land use in the Ica Valley was recently published in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

The peoples of the Ica Valley are not the only Peruvians to  suffer from the effects of deforestation. The hills around Lima, Peru were once
covered in huarango trees as well. The trees captured the fog from the ocean and  fed local aquifers. But after the Spanish conquest, the trees were cut and the  hills went dry.

 

Coast of Peru

 

 

Original article:

news.discovery.com

Photos:

IMAGE 1: The coastal desert of Peru. (Wikimedia Commons)

IMAGE 2: Photo STS109-730-80
from the STS-109 crew on March 9, 2002, showing layers of coastal Peruvian fog
and stratus being progressively scoured away by brisk south to southeast winds.
Remnants of the cloud deck banked against the larger, obstructing headlands like
Peninsula Paracas and Isla Sangayan, giving the prominent “white comma” effect.
Southerlies also produced ripples of internal gravity waves in the clouds
offshore where warm, dry air aloft interacts with a thinning layer of cool,
moist air near the sea surface on the outer edge of the remaining cloud bank.
South of Peninsula Baracas, the small headlands channeled the clouds into
streaks—local horizontal vortices caused by the headlands provided enough lift
to give points of origin of the clouds in some bays. Besides the shelter of the
peninsula, the Bahia de Pisco appears to be cloud-free due to a dry, offshore
flow down the valley of the Rio Ica. Caption provided by NASA Earth
Observatory
; image provided by the Earth
Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory
at Johnson Space Center.

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Topic: Farming in Peru:

My thoughts:

The Post on the Chinook Indians, Ft Clatsup is taking a bit longer than I hoped-but I should post on Wednesday!

JLP

Back to topic:

cotton ball dated to 5500 BC

Anthropologists working on the slopes of the Andes in northern Peru have discovered the earliest-known evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming dating back 5,000 to 9,000 years. Their findings provide long-sought-after evidence that some of the early development of agriculture in the New World took place at farming settlements in the Andes.

The discovery was published in the June 29 issue of Science.

The research team made their discovery in the Ñanchoc Valley, which is approximately 500 meters above sea level on the lower western slopes of the Andes in northern Peru.

“We believe the development of agriculture by the Ñanchoc people served as a catalyst for cultural and social changes that eventually led to intensified agriculture, institutionalized political power and new towns in the Andean highlands and along the coast 4,000 to 5,500 years ago,” Tom D. Dillehay, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University and lead author on the publication, said. “Our new findings indicate that agriculture played a broader role in these sweeping developments than was previously understood.”

Dillehay and his colleagues found wild-type peanuts, squash and cotton as well as a quinoa-like grain, manioc and other tubers and fruits in the floors and hearths of buried preceramic sites, garden plots, irrigation canals, storage structures and on hoes. The researchers used a technique called accelerator mass spectrometry to determine the radiocarbon dates of the materials. Data gleaned from botanists, other archaeological findings and a review of the current plant community in the area suggest the specific strains of the discovered plant remains did not naturally grow in the immediate area.

“The plants we found in northern Peru did not typically grow in the wild in that area,” Dillehay said. “We believe they must have therefore been domesticated elsewhere first and then brought to this valley by traders or mobile horticulturists.

“The use of these domesticated plants goes along with broader cultural changes we believe existed at that time in this area, such as people staying in one place, developing irrigation and other water management techniques, creating public ceremonials, building mounds and obtaining and saving exotic artifacts.”

The researchers dated the squash from approximately 9,200 years ago, the peanut from 7,600 years ago and the cotton from 5,500 years ago.

Dillehay published the findings with fellow researchers Jack Rossen, Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y.; Thomas C. Andres, The Curcurbit Network, New York, N.Y.; and David E. Williams, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Dillehay is chair of the Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt, Professor Extraordinaire at the Universidad Austral de Chile and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

The research was supported by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Lima; the National Science Foundation; the Heinz Foundation; the University of Kentucky and Vanderbilt University.

Original article:

sciencedaily.com

July, 2007

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Topic: Ancient Cusine Tour

LIMA, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — There are already quite a number of theme tours in the category of cultural tourism; eco-tourism is a popular example.

    The Peruvians, however, have come up with an unusual variation: gastronomical tourism. Gastronomical tourism will boost the country’s tourism sector, which is well-known for its archaeological and historical interest.

    “The gastronomical tourism will be consolidated this year,” Peru’s Tourism Minister Martin Perez declared. “We could magnify it by linking archaeological (tourism) and historical tourism to gastronomy.”

    Peru, whose cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world, is to invite tourists to taste the various Peruvian dishes apart from visiting the museums.

    Though the Peruvian cuisine is acclaimed as being on a par with the French, Chinese and Indian cuisines, foreign visitors normally do not come to Peru to sample its cuisine.

The minister said that gourmet tourists increased by 25 percent in the past year despite the global economic crisis and the swine flu. In the past year, most foreign gourmets came from Chile, Ecuador and Colombia.

    So the country is working out new strategies to benefit from this increased interest in food tourism.

    Thanks to its pre-Inca and Inca heritages and its Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French and British immigrants, Peru’s cuisine combines the flavors of four continents.

    The country now boasts more than 2,000 types of soups and more than 250 traditional desserts, apart from thousands of dishes.

    Typical Peruvian dishes of anticuchos, ceviche, humitas and pachamanca are sure to eventually top taste lists of foreign gourmets.

Original Article:

1/7/2010

ArchaeologyNews.net

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