Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Eastern North America: An Independent Center of Agricultural Origins

  • Gayle J. Fritz
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_2194


As early as the 1930s, a group of native seed-bearing plants excavated from dry rockshelter sites in Kentucky and the Ozarks of Arkansas, and Missouri presented themselves as candidates for a possible indigenous eastern North American crop complex. Not until fairly recently, however, have archaeological and genetic techniques – especially AMS radiocarbon dating, scanning electron microscopy, flotation recovery of charred plant remains, and analysis of both modern and ancient DNA – convinced all researchers that eastern North America is a legitimate, independent center of plant domestication. Peter Bellwood (2005: 158) described this discovery as “one of the major recent achievements of U.S. archaeological research….”

Domestication in this region contrasts with agricultural origins in some other parts of the world. Selection for useful crops took place after the early Holocene Neolithic time frame of southwestern and eastern Asia, for example, and it does not appear to have...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gayle J. Fritz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA