Sunday, 29 January 2012
The special issue of Rice arising from the Cornell rice, genetics and linguistics meeting is now complete and fully paginated. I have blogged several of the papers earlier (listed below). Those papers in the issue are well summarized in the editorial: "In this issue, 12 articles and 1 of the symposium discussants’ commentaries have been included. The first four (by Fuller, Bellwood, d’Alpoim-Guèdes, and Castillo) review and expand the archaeological knowledge about early agriculture in Asia and its wider region. Fuller, who served as a keynote speaker at the symposium, pays special attention to the pan-Asian context, as well as to South Asian developments. The next four articles (by Sagart, Bradley, Southworth, and Whitman) treat the same scope of issues from the perspective mainly of historical linguistics. The contribution by Sanchez-Mazas and her colleagues offers an updated perspective from human genetics, and the two following papers (the first by Takashige and his colleagues and the second by Hsieh, Hsing, and their colleagues), from plant genetics, also reconnecting to the multidisciplinary aspirations of the symposium. In addition, we publish a paper on inter-Asian rice exchanges in later historical periods by veteran agricultural economist Randolph Barker, as well as the revised remarks by Richard O’Connor, one of several symposium discussants."
Amongst the later published papers is piece by the Linguist Frank Southworth, mainly focused on Dravidian India. Of particular note is the reintroduction into main stream linguistics of the "Elamo-Dravidian" hypothesis.
Here are the full list of papers. They can be found on-line here.
Pathways to Asian Civilizations: Tracing the Origins and Spread of Rice and Rice Cultures. Dorian Q. Fuller
The Checkered Prehistory of Rice Movement Southwards as a Domesticated Cereal—from the Yangzi to the Equator. Peter Bellwood [blog notes]
Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China. Jade d’Alpoim Guedes [blog notes]
Rice in Thailand: The Archaeobotanical Contribution. Cristina Castillo [blog notes]
How Many Independent Rice Vocabularies in Asia?. Laurent Sagart [blog notes]
Proto-Tibeto-Burman Grain Crops. David Bradley [blog notes]
Rice in Dravidian. Franklin Southworth
Northeast Asian Linguistic Ecology and the Advent of Rice Agriculture in Korea and Japan. John Whitman [blog notes]
A Genetic Focus on the Peopling History of East Asia: Critical Views. Alicia Sanchez-Mazas, Da Di and María Eugenia Riccio
Evaluation of Genetic Variation Among Wild Populations and Local Varieties of Rice
Takashige Ishii, Takashi Hiraoka, Tomoyuki Kanzaki, Masahiro Akimoto and Rieko Shishido, et al.
Studies on Ancient Rice—Where Botanists, Agronomists, Archeologists, Linguists, and Ethnologists Meet. Jaw-shu Hsieh, Yue-ie Caroline Hsing, Tze-fu Hsu, Paul Jen-kuei Li and Kuang-ti Li, et [blog notes]
The Origin and Spread of Early-Ripening Champa Rice: It’s Impact on Song Dynasty China. Randolph Barker
Discussant’s Remarks: Reviving Ethnology to Understand the Rice Neolithic. Richard A. O’Connor
Saturday, 21 January 2012
The publication of the 6th African Archaeobotany conference volume, with a december 2011 date, has been announced: Windows on the African Past. Current Approaches to African Archaeobotany, edited by Ahmed Fahmy, Catherine D'Andrea, Stefanie Kahlheber. Published by AfricaMagna.
An Embarrassment for me, as the previous African archaeobotany conference held in London is still not published. Ooops. Hope to have that squared away soon!
Just in time for the 7th IWAA in Vienna.
(and judging for the contents, there is nothing new to add to out lack of knowledge of the early history of Africa rice: so the challenge remains)
Friday, 20 January 2012
NGRAMs tool, an obvious game to play to to plug in ones favorite words, or words for what we do, and see how they may as a percentage of published words (or the words in the massive google books archive) over time. How does archaeobotany do? Although flotation started in the 1960s, a recurrent name for the specialization of studying them lagged behind be almost 2 decades. Interesting use of the phrases "carbonized seeds" took off from the mid-1960s, presumably as a result of the flotation revolution. ). A name for the specialization does become common until almost 2 decades later in the 1980s when paleoethnobotany (American spelling), palaeoethnobotany (UK spelling), and archaeobotany take off. Their take off also correlates with the rise of phytolith research (see below). This graph, although it ends in 2000 also suggests that there may be a move towards a preference of archaeobotany to paleoethnobotany? The decline of carbonized seeds may well track the shift to use of the term "macroremains" which takes off from about 1980 [see below]. The rise of use of the term "phytolith" may start regularly in the 1970s and really takes off in the 1980s. Of course this is only in books and not journal articles, but still...
In a far more nuanced and useful approach to disciplinary health, Naomi Miller circulated a questionnaire on archaeobotany, and has summarized the results in a recent issue of the SAA Archaeobotanical record (Sept. 2011), available as a PDF here. This summary looks at field and lab practice, publication and employment. The complete results are on her website at Penn: PDF. There is some useful insights into variation in practices across Europe, the UK and the US, in the commercial versus university academic context, and as an appendix a list of websites that people of reported.
Thursday, 19 January 2012
Neumann et al. in a new Quaternary International article "First farmers in the Central African rainforest: A view from southern Cameroon", report a combination of archaeobotanical, apynological and historical linguistic evidence for the nature of early Bantu economies on the northwestern rainforest along margins of central Africa in the First Millennium BC. This includes updated and important discussions of pearl millet, tree nut use (like Canarium and oil palm). These societies brought savanna millet agriculture with them and took advantage of drier conditions to cultivate millet in marginal forest environments, while utilizing (and managing?) forest tree resources as well. Of relevance to those who have argued that bananas were fundamental to early Bantu economies in the rainforest zone (e.g. Blench 2009), however, is the lack of evidence for bananas in these newer excavations. The article includes a short paragraph on bananas, with some quite critical comments on the issue of early African banans ("act two" in the history summarized below on this blog). They note that study in their samples "several thousand phytoliths already counted, no evidence for Musa could be detected. This sheds further doubt on the banana phytoliths from the contemporary third millennium BP site Nkang" and also they argue that, "There are also ecological arguments against cultivation of banana during this period. As is shown in the following, the climate was much more seasonal in the second half of the third millennium BP and thus unfavourable for plantains which require a humid climate without any major oscillations"
So the debate is out in the open. I don't think there is question of whether the reported phytoliths of Nkang are from Musa, but the worry is surely whether these phytoliths are actually of Iron Age date. They are not directly dated, and the possibility of intrusive or contaminating material from later, when bananas are such a prominent part of the present landscape, contamination is what we need to worry about. On the other hand Nkang is not in exactly the same area as the site studied by Neumann et al, so supporters of the early banana hypothesis might point to diverse and varied economies in the Iron Age. All the more reason to chase more archaeobotanical sampling in the region: we are still reliant on a just a few sites.
Bananas are an intriguing fruit. Quick growing, and tall, tropical herbs, rather than real trees, known pretty much everywhere today from the most temperate climes, as a typical and inexpensive table fruit, while in other places they serve as starchy staple alongside or even instead of tubers or cereals (and as the base for beer-brewing). Because most cultivated bananas are seedless hybrids tracking them archaeologically is difficult. Various lines of archaeological, linguistic and ethnobotanical evidence were pulled together a couple of years ago in a journal issue, while this year saw some updated syntheses, or at least attempts at synthesis. The origins of cultivated bananas seems to have focused on New Guinea, and the First Act can be regarded as the dispersal throughout most of tropical Asia. A PNAS article this summer, with 18 co-authors, across botany, linguistics and archaeology provided a model of integrating genetics and historical linguistics (with rather more limited archaeology) for tracking the early evolution, diversification of bananas, mainly in SE Asia [pdf]. I still have issues with how the hybridization between A and B genomes took place. The authors postulate an anthropogenic dispersal of M. balbisiana (B), and do not really deal with any potential role of South Asian balbisiana in hybrid bananas. Both parts of India (Orissa through Assam) and Sri Lanka have wild Musa balbisiana; Sri Langa has reports of wild M. acuminata too. It seems clear that Pleistocene (to early Holocene) humans in Sri Lanka were using and probably consuming wild bananas. In addition to the seeds from Beli-lena cave reported years ago by Kajale (in Harris and Hillman's volume Foraging and Farming). To this can be added new phytolith finds, in well-dated stratigraphic context from Batadomba-lena, published in Journal of Human Evolution this past summer. Ongoing phytolith analyses from other Sri Lanka caves, including some work here in London, will have more ancient Musa phytoliths to report soon. It may well be that wild Musa use in Sri Lanka was a dead-end with regards to early cultivars, but it seems premature to rule it out entirely.
Second act: the introduction of bananas and plantains to Africa. Probably the best general account of this is still to be found in the 1999 article by De Langhe and De Maret, and it was also addressed in several of the papers in the 2009 Ethnobotany Research and Applications issue on bananas. But for a summary that places this in the wider context of the translocation of crops, weeds and commensal animals across the Indian ocean, from Asia to Africa see the paper I jointly authored with some other members of the Sealinks project, published in Antiquity this past summer, " Across the Indian Ocean: the prehistoric movement of plants and animals." The evidential lynch-pin for the a pehistoric/Iron Age translocation of bananas (or plantains) remains a single site in Cameroun with reported phytolths, Nkang. This limited evidence, of course, until or unless more is found may be open to critique-- which has been coming from some quarters of Africa archaeobotany. For the latest installment see the recent Neumann et al article in Quanternary International. A short blog here.
Third act: Gobailization via refigerator vessels and 20th century AD supermarket culture. For some account of the modern technology involved in the mass shipping and then ripening of supermarket bananas, specifically in New York city, see this recent blog at Edible Geography.The book Banana: the fate of the fruit that changed the World by Dan Koeppel, deals with this and much, much more; and I have discovered he has his own banana blog.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Just a short not to highlight the publication of a special issue of Quaternary International (volume 249) on human occupation of tropical rainforests, on the theme of how rainforests are themselves artefacts, or "cultural landscapes", to quote from the editorial by Barton, Denham, Neumann and Arroyo-Kalin the papers show "several commonalities can be elicited that enabled hunter-foragers to permanently inhabit rainforest landscapes in different parts of the world"-- which bears on the adaptiveness of Early Modern Human, which lead to cultural parallelisms. In many cases Tropical forests adaptation lead on to agriculture of the more mobile/shifting sort. The volume includes several papers on the Neotropics, Africa and Island Southeast Asia and New Guinea, as well as one on India and Sri Lanka (Kingwell-Banham and Fuller). I have a lot of pages to read and digest, but I previously highlighted on of the African papers by Hohn and Neumann as an excellent example of integrating multiple archaeobotanical datasets, and I regard it as one of the highlights of African Archaeobotany of the past year. I have also previously noted Huw Barton's comparison of rice and sago on Borneo. No doubt many of the other papers in this issue, which I have yet to read, will also be gems.
Two additional paper on rice/cereal agriculture spread and historical linguistics have been published on-line. I recall both from their presentations at Cornell in September as being inciteful and informative: one by David Bradley collects the vocabularies of various cereal crops, always including rice, but also millets and buckwheat in various Tibeto-Burman languages. He concludes that for Tibeto-Burman languages it is the Chinese millets (Setaria and Panicum) that can be most readily reconstructed back, with rice somewhat later. Of interest is that buckwheat appaears later in in common to Eastern Tibeto-Burman languages, who also share barley terms, the latter possibly borrowed from Indian languages. This may be evidence truly independent origin of high mountain agriculture in the eastern Himalayas or Tibetan plateau (buckhwheat), with agriculture in such regions instead being "additive" in the sense that local species were domesticated by farmers who moved in from elsewhere (the lowlands) with other crops (millet).
The other by John Whitman provide a synthesis of linguistic and archaeological evidence for the spread of agriculture in Korea and Japan. The image (left) is from Whitman, and summarizes the archaeological picture. He makes a good case that this fits with known linguistic and epigraphic evidence.
Monday, 16 January 2012
I am still trying to see through my Holiday period intention of flagging some of the archaeobotanical highlights of 2011. Africa, as a continent, remains one of the archaeobotanically least known and so it worth noting a number of contributions over the past year.
One of the best itegrated studies (from anywhere, not just Africa) of wood charcoal alongside seeds, pollen and other lines of evidence for the study of changing cultivation practices, including shifting cultivation in Burkino Faso by Hohn and Neumann, which is in press but on-line.
A important book released in 2011 was Marijke van der Veen's monograph in the Journal of African Archaeology series on Consumption, Trade and Innovation, which reports the archaeobotanical evidence from the Red Sea trade port of Quesir, an site with both Roman and Islamic era evidence as a port site [table of contents PDF]. It has excellent illustrations and straight forward quantitative analyses that highlight the different food traditions of the Roman and Islamic periods, highlights trade in foods (fruits, nuts, spices), and the much more 'globalized' of pan-Indian Ocean in character, with lemons, eggplants and watermelons consumed for their seeds. I am particularly taken by the evidence for two-way flow. This is not just about importing spices and bananas from the East, but I am struck by how many European imports, like hazelnuts, were also consumed in the Egyptian desert. The evidence for imported spices in Roman and Medieval western Europe, reviewed by Livarda 2011, is remarkably Asian-centric (black pepper, cardamon, a single medieval nutmeg) but some African Melgueta pepper has been reported from European Medieval contexts.
Some small contributions from the lab here in London came out, too:
Manning et al. reported the earliest archaeological Pearl Millet, with direct dates between 2500 and 2000 BC from the Tilemsi valley in NE Mali, and evidence from chaff impressions for non-shatteing domestication traits. The discussion (and supplement) include a database summarizing the whole archaeological record of pearl millet.
Giblin and Fuller reported the first archaeobotanical results from the first flotation in Rwanda, dating from ca. 400 AD to 1200 AD, with sorghum, pearl millet and cowpea from the earliest samples. Of note is the recurrence of finger millet, and this article includes a discussion and supplementary database of the whole archaeological record of finger millet.
Nixon, Murray and Fuller published the archaeobotany from Tadmekka/ Essouk in NE mali the trans-Sahaan trade route. It was Islamic era trade city, with excavated material between 700 and 1400 AD. Amongst the staples were pearl millet and wild grains (Echnichloa, Brachiaria), but there is also evidence for wheat (imported or locally irrigated) and cotton processing (imported or locally irrigated), and several fruits. It includes an effort to tabulate the sum of archaeobotanical evidence for medieval west Africa.
Ruas and Tengberg (from the Paris archaeobotany lab) published an archaeobotanical study from Igiliz in southern Morocco, the first ever from the region, which included a detailed consideration of Argan oil production (blogged previously).
Although not strictly Africa, another study from the Paris lab, Bouchard, Tengberg and Pra report evidence from Mada'in Salih in Saudi Arabia, which expands our archaeological evidence for cotton cultivation, and is discussed alongside that from Bahrain, in relation to the role of arid Arabia in producing cotton as part of date palm oasis cultivation systems in Antiquity.
The last article taken with Sarah Walshaw's article on Swahili era Pemba from the previous year (World Archaeology 2010: "converting to rice"), frames the northern and southern limits of early Old World cotton production.
Friday, 13 January 2012
More papers from the Cornell meeting on rice, linguistics and cultural spread continue to come out on-line. This includes my own attempt ("Pathways to Asian Civilizations") to integrate historical linguistics hypotheses, current archaeobotany and recent genetics (including some considerations of issues blogged a few weeks ago).
Perhaps more importantly it includes a updated assessment of the comparative lingusitics of rice vocabularies by the CNRS linguist Laurent Sagart, who favours an early historical linkage between Sino-Tibetan and Austronesia: for him this relationship is genetic but I wonder whether an early situation on contacts and loans (including millet and rice) makes more sense? An earlier study by Blench collecting rice vocabulary, published in 2008 [available here], deserves to be considered alongside this paper for its extensive tables across several language families. There is updated overview by Peter Bellwood of his language/farming dispersal hypothesis in its Island Southeast Asian hearth, which includes some important new revisions (such as an early migration eastwards to micronesia and shift in line of newer views of Chinese rice domestication as being later). A rice-driven spread of rice through Indonesia looks less and less plausible, and even though there was some early (late 3rd Millennium BC?) from a few sites it may never have really taken hold: i.e. there was a failed "revolution" in grain culture. In a forthcoming article by Huw Barton on the rice versus sago in Borneo, he makes the case that " appears to be an illogical crop choice in the rainforests of Borneo" by comparison to the higher yielding forest staple Sago (see his yield estimates chart below). Serious and persistence rice agriculture may be much more recent (although I guess before the Malay period when rice was moved from this region to Madagascar).
In relation to Austronesian origins, there is also a paper on rice in Taiwan, which mainly reports some genetic data on local land-races, but also provides the best illustrations yet of some archaeobotanical evidence from the site of Nankuanli (including rice and foxtail millet).
There are also some papers of a more palaeoenvironmental flavour on rice. Quaternary International has a second special issue on "Agricultural activities and rice cultivation in East Asia [Part 2]" coming out. Judging from the editorial, we can expect several pollen studies from around East and northeast Asia which detect human farming impacts on vegetation, but little that is likely to change views on the origins and spread of rice, nor on archaeobotany. Part 1 was an issue in late 2010, had a few highlights, such as expanded data and discussion of the vegetation, vegetation burning in relation to the early cultivation site of Kuahuqiao (Shu et al), and Li et al's palynological assessment of vegetation and forests during the Liangzhu period-- worth looking at alongside Fuller & Qin's Environmental Archaeology paper on the environmental context of rice (Dec. 2010). Although it should be noted that Li et al repeat some old mis-identifications from Qianshanyang repeated by non-botanical archaeologists in 1960! Notably "peanut" (introduced via Europeans in the 16th century, see the classic study by Ho 1955) and sesame (probably not older than the Han dynasty: see Fuller 2003)-- the latter certainly is melon (Cucumis melo) which is widely encountered. It pains me to see wrong and unreliable identifications repeated....
More important still is an on-line article by Gary Crawford "Early rice exploitation in the Lower Yangzi: what are we missing?" for a forthcoming issue of The Holocene also on early rice and palaeoenvironment (that I expect to also be an issue that is mainly palynological and sedimentological). It is a thoughtful and provocative paper, partly meant to update Crawford and Shen (1998) and partly meant to be critical of recent work in the Lower Yangtze (including mine), with extended discussions of the issue of immature grains and spikelet base criteria (but without any substantive new suggestions)-- true these criteria are not as straight forward as an either or division, but they still work pretty clearly for characterizing the big trends and transitions. He also summarizes in English a new Chinese proposal (by Gu and Zhao) for morphometric formulae for determining from grain measurements the percentage of rice that was wild or domesticated (although I expect the reliability of such an over-precise formula is dubious). He muddies the definition of "domestication" somewhat by taking a catholic list of "DRT" (domestication-related traits) from the genetics literature-- some of which have little to do with basic crop origins at the beginnings of agriculture, despite their appeal to breeders or the importance in some cultures (like waxiness or white grains). This article includes important critical comments on alleged Pleistocene claims for wild rice, whether from the South China see or Yuchanyan
One of Crawford's main points is to emphasize that we must understand more than rice, that rice "casts a long shadow" on consideration of other resources. (I fully agree, this was the starting point for my original Hemudu critiques [2007, 2008], that 1000s of acorns should not be ignored). He argues consider landscape management for taxa such as oaks and peaches, points I would certainly agree with. He pushes for nut-managers or niche constructors, while characterizing my interpretation as one of "nut-gatherers who became cultivators", which failed to consider other "crops". Perhaps there was management for nuts like acorns (which I suggested in Fuller&Qin 2009), but the problem is that we are hard pressed to see any evidence for this. And if landscapes were managed for nuts (likely to at least some degree) I doubt whether this can be seen as somehow fundamentally different in the Holocene from the kinds of practices that characterized early modern humans in the later Pleistocene (as argued in Fuller, Willcox and Allaby in World Archaeology), since they knew how to manage vegetation through burning and to plant and transplant if desired (as indicated by bottlegourds that must have been cultivated since the Pleistocene beyond Africa) rice cultivation is fundamentally different-- the management for habitats for annual plants rather than landscapes of perennials. A key shift in rice is from perennial ancestors to more productive annuals, a point he touches on as well. And the creation of rice cultivation systems that could select for this and for domestication traits like non-shattering was fundamentally different in outcome and commitment than whatever landscape and tree management that had come before.
Crawford flirts with the Hayden hypothesis that rice cultivation developed because rice was the first luxury food. While the prestige of risking labour in rice probably is relevant to many cases of secondary adoption, as Huw Barton suggests for rice cultivation in sago-rich Borneo, I am less convinces this is true for the for the sparse early Holocene/terminal Pleistocene Neolithic of Yangtze China. Instead domesticated rice, and its intensified use (from ca. 4500-4000 BC onwards) correlated with material culture evidence from craft specialization and artefactual prestige-goods (see Fuller and Qin 2010). Hayden's speculation (in the recent volume edited by Barker & Jakowski) would be that competitive feasting and prestige battles are there to be found and we just need to keep looking (perhaps in submerged coastal areas which Crawford suggests may hold many secrets). I prefer to focus on the evidence we do have rather than speculate about what is under the sea or alluvium. Domesticated rice, in the morphological sense, was later than had long been assumed, and created new opportunities for wealth production and demography: it was a game changer, at least in its native Yangtze heartland. Morphological domestication and how rice was cultivated is not an unimportant detail, but central to understanding a major economic and landscape transition which made later Neolithic societies onwards fundamentally different from those that had existed for much longer before in the Early Holocene or Pleistocene... In any case, clearly a paper that deserves reading and thinking about.
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
I am ever the fan of the obscure crop, the "lost crop", or the highly local. I have drawn attention previously to the forgotten oil-millet of Taiwan, and tef-- which is obscure to those less familiar with Ethiopian agriculture-- a couple of years ago. I thought it might be interesting as part of a end of 2011 review, to compile some of the more obscure crops that got archaeobotanical attention in publications this past year.
1. Abutilon theophrasti, socalled "China jute" or velvetleaf, was reported in quantity from a Hungarian Late Neolithic site in a storage jar (5th millenium BC) by Medovic and Hovrath. This is the only archaeological evidence for its cultivation that I know of, and it highlights the mystery surrounding where this crop comes from. This species can grown for bast fibre, similar to jute, but fruits and seeds are also edible. This find tend to lend support to the hypothesis of an eastern Mediterranean origin rather than an in China with early dispersal to Europe before 4000 BC.
2. Argan (Argania spinosa)-- the argan oil tree (or "goat-turd oil" as I have often heard it called), has its first(?) archaeological record from Southern Morocco, published by Marie-Pierre Ruas Margareta Tengberg & al. in Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. They also provide an excellent ethnographical description (and photos) of the gathering and processing: fruit eaten by goats; stones cleaned out of goat droppings, and pressed for oil... one of the priciest oils out there (if not the most pricey). Hunting for unadulterated bottles of the stuff was a recurrent theme in the markets of Fez or Meknes when I was on excavation in Morocco some years ago. Even small 50mL bottles, when you can find them, in London can set you back nearly 10 pounds. But its is a wonderfully distictive oil for salad dressing for, better, bread-dipping...
But for those into obscure and lost crops, a nice obscure book is Threatened Crop Sepcies Diversity by Korous Khoshbakht and Karl Hammer (a prolific researcher on crop diversity!). Actually published in 2010, in Tehran by Shahid Behesti University Press, it is unlikely to turn up in your local book store (but there is a PDF to be found from an Iranian site). I was lucky enough to find one with a Christmas card from Prof. Hammer in my post a few weeks ago, a real holiday treat. What a gem, with short account on obscure wheats, from Triticum karamyschevii, to forgotten millets such as Digitaria sanguinalis, to farmer preserved plants such as the banana relative Musella lasiocarpa, which is apparently now extinct in the wild, but it remains in cultivation as a raw fibre material and pig fodder by ethnic minorities like the Yi. Moringa hildbrantii, an endemic of Madagascar, appear to survive only in hedges and planted fences as an ornamental and medicinal. It includes nice summaries of the extinct Silphium of ancient Libya, or the more recent extirpated domesticated forms of German Pellitory (Anacyclus officinarum) grown in parts of Europe, such as Germany, as a medicinal up to the 19th century, but apparently now extinct in its domesticated form, but survived by it likely wild progenitor A. pyrethrum.
Nevertheless, other obscure and endangered crops are missing (such as the oil-millet of Taiwan or Khasi hills millet, Digitaria cruciata, or South Indian browntop millet, Brachiaria ramosa). Also missing are some of the archaeobotanically well-known lost crops, the striate emmeroid wheat of prehistoric Europe, first published by Jones et al 2000, for example, or the Bronze Age Greek oilseed forms of Lallementia (Jones and Valamoti 2005), or the domesticated sumpweed of North America, Iva annua var. macrocarpa, extinct from the native cultivars of the midwest by the time serious European records became available, but clearly recognized archaeologically (e.g. Yarnell 1972).
Loss of diversity of cultivars is undoubtedly a tragedy of our time, but it also is not entirely new; diversity of cultivars has been being gained and lost since agriculture began.
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I am ever the fan of the obscure crop, the "lost crop", or the highly local. I have drawn attention previously to the forgotten ...