Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolution of Maize

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9780123693648: Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolution of Maize

Maize has been described as a primary catalyst to complex socio-cultural development in the Americas. State of the art research on maize chronology, molecular biology, and stable carbon isotope research on ancient human diets have provided additional lines of evidence on the changing role of maize through time and space and its spread throughout the Americas. The multidisciplinary evidence from the social and biological sciences presented in this volume have generated a much more complex picture of the economic, political, and religious significance of maize. The volume also includes ethnographic research on the uses and roles of maize in indigenous cultures and a linguistic section that includes chapters on indigenous folk taxonomies and the role and meaning of maize to the development of civilization. "Histories of Maize" is the most comprehensive reference source on the botanical, genetic, archaeological, and anthropological aspects of ancient maize published to date. This book will appeal to a varied audience, and have no titles competiting with it because of its breadth and scope. The volume offers a single source of high quality summary information unavailable elsewhere. It introduces the breadth of multidisciplinary research in the anthropological, archaeological, earth, and biological sciences. It reveals the cultural, religious, and economic significance of maize and goes beyond its role as a primary catalyst to complex sociocultural developments in Mesoamerica, North America and Andean South America. It provides new information about the importance of maize to pre-Hispanic diets. It enables readers to follow subjects and related topics through its organization. It enhances accessibility by means of a consistent article format and extensive index. It includes chapters on folk taxonomies of maize and linguistic information on it spread and significance to ancient religion, and economic, political and agricultural uses. It introduces state of the art methodologies and approaches to the identification of maize lineages and their spread and cultural significance in the Americas.

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This book provides a single source of information about the genetic, archaeological, and anthropological aspects of ancient maize!

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Among many themes that recur throughout this multifaceted examination ofZea mays L. is the contention that maize was not initially the important economic food sources that many have assumed. Domesticated only once, maize played important roles in many sociocultural developments, but it did not always achieve economic importance and it probably became a primary staple in the Americas much later than previously thought. Drawing upon new techologies and their associated methodologies, the editors have developed a holistic approach to maize that highlights the prehistoric record, chronology, and contextual associations of maize, particularly through molecular, biological, and morphological research as well as stable carbon isotope analysis, paleodiet, ethnographic, and linguistic analyses. This sweeping summary of maize studies offers a useful consolidation of research agendas, at once providing new conclusions and opportunities for new research.

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