The Age of Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) in the Northeastern United States

TitleThe Age of Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) in the Northeastern United States
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsHart, JP, Scarry, CM
JournalAmerican Antiquity
KeywordsAMS dating, Archaeology, common bean, crop history, maize-bean-squash agriculture, northeastern North America, Phaseolus vulgaris

A radiocarbon date of A.D. 1070±60 was linked to the remains of maize (Zea mays), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), and squash (Cucurbita pepo) at the Roundtop site in the Susquehanna River valley of New York by William Ritchie in 1969 and 1973 publications. This date established the presence of beans in the Northeast at an earlier time than in most other areas of the eastern United States, w here they are generally rare before A.D. 1300.  Subsequently beans have been reported in pre-A.D. 1300 contexts from at least eight other sites in the Northeast. Recent calibrated A MS dates on beans f rom Roundtop are no earlier than A.D. 1300 (Hart 1999a). Given that the original Roundtop date was responsible for the acceptance of early beans in the Northeast, the AMS dates suggested that beans may not become archaeologically visible there until ca. A.D. 1300. AMS dates on beans from four other sites, reported here, substantiate the Roundtop results. Beans and by extension maize-beans-squash intercropping are not evident in the Northeast before ca. A.D. 1300.