Carl L. Johannessen, Professor Emeritus

102 Condon Hall
1251 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1251

Office Phone: 541-346-4560
Home Phone: 541-342-2235
Fax: 541-346-2067
E-mail: carlj@uoregon.edu

Photo of Carl Johannessen


PRE-COLUMBIAN MAIZE IN CHINA AND INDIA?

The evidence of maize in archaeological sites in China and its depiction in Hoysala Temples in India, both dated before the 15th century A.D., suggests that this domesticated crop was diffused by human action before the arrival of Columbus in the New World. The implications of this evidence are of great magnitude, since the presence of maize in Asia indicates that humans were able to migrate between both hemispheres; more than likely through trans-oceanic means of travel.

Maize in pre-Columbian India is documented in my article with Anne Z. Parker, "Maize Ears Sculptured in 12th and 13th Century A.D. India as Indicators of Pre-Columbian Diffusion," Economic Botany 43 (2), 1989, pp. 164-180.

The following color illustrations of a few of the sculptures discussed in that article show more detail than was possible in the published black and white photographs that accompanied the article. Click on each thumbnail photograph for a full-screen blowup.

PHOTO #1
PHOTO #2
PHOTO #3

These sculptures are built into temples as load bearing walls with mortise and tenon joints at top and bottom of each sculpted block. They bear the load of stone beams and stone roofs on top. Temples are dated in written historical records in South India. They contain who built the structures, when they were built, the cause for which they were built, and who the sculptors were. Archaeological discoveries in the last decade have similar carvings of maize, etc., and indicate that the sculptural work was typical of sculptures of the reigning Hoysala Dynasty of the 11th to 13th C.E. centuries. Direct observations in the temples show that no two maize ears are identical. Each of the more than 100 temples has similar carvings. Over 80 large ears are present in the last and most beautiful Somnathpur temple with several hundred examples of smaller ears elsewhere, in the roof for example, and these corn ears demonstrate that the designers appreciated the multi-seeded fertility symbol, just as they carved the images of the Annonas and sunflowers, which are multi-seeded fruits decorating the walls and courtyards.

Maize breeders in India, China, United States, and Great Britain, who have seen extensive collections of the illustrations, concur with me that only sculptors with abundant ears of maize as models could have created these illustrations of maize. No other biological product has these assemblages of anatomical charateristics that are within the envelope of variations of maize. I grant that these findings have been thought to be impossible in the earlier belief systems that maintained that there was no significant contact between New and Old World. These anti-diffusionist beliefs have to give way to reality. Archaeological findings will soon be found to verify these predictions, which is also a facet of the Scientific Method.

We are currently finding much more evidence of contact between Asia and the Americas. Many of these relate to DNA complexity of biotic forms that can be tested for indications of genetic similarities and genetic distances, but written literature, paintings, sculptures, and archaeological finds all support not detract from the diffusion hypothesis of very ancient sailing contact in the building of high civilizations around the world.

 

 
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