Morphological analysis of Late Pre-Hispanic Peruvian Chenopodium spp.

Original Article

Abstract

Archaeologists measure features in archaeological seeds primarily to document domestication during the Neolithic period. These same methods are less frequently used to study morphological changes associated with cultural selection of landraces later in time. For example, researchers have documented domesticated forms of chenopods during the Formative period in the Andes, yet there remains very little research on postliminary chenopod morphology. In this study, I use techniques developed to understand domestication, including scanning electron microscopy, to analyse charred archaeological Chenopodium spp. seeds recovered from the site Ayawiri located near Puno, Peru and dated to the Late Intermediate period (ad 1100–1450), almost 4,000 years after incipient domestication of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). I found that this assemblage of chenopod seeds does not morphologically conform to modern varieties. Rather, these seeds are smaller than their modern counterparts. These findings indicate there was appreciable cultural selection of larger chenopod seed stock over the last 550 years.

Keywords

Quinoa Domestication Andes Late Intermediate period Archaeobotany 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thank Elizabeth Arkush for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of Proyecto Machu Llaqta. Thank you to my colleagues and collaborators who have provided insights and inspiration for research on chenopods over the years including Gayle Fritz, David Browman, Christine Hastorf, Maria Bruno, and David Mixter. Funding for mapping and excavations at Ayawiri came principally from a National Science Foundation grant (BCS-0849094/BCS-1101148) with additional support from the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Botanical analysis was supported by National Science Foundation-Dissertation Improvement Grant 1305140 and Washington University in Saint Louis Graduate School Funding. The School of Engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis allowed me to use their scanning electron microscope. Thank you to the Ministerio de Cultura in Peru for permitting the work at Ayawiri. I am also grateful for the friendly assistance of the community of Chila, the community of Tiquillaca, and many other colleagues who aided in the field. This article was greatly improved from the comments and suggestions provided by two anonymous reviewers and Lee Newsom. All errors are my own.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBinghamton UniversityBinghamtonUSA

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