Crop Domestication in Prehistoric Eastern North America

TitleCrop Domestication in Prehistoric Eastern North America
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsAsch, DL, Hart, JP
EditorGoodman, RM
Book TitleEncyclopedia of Plant and Crop Science
PublisherMarcel Dekker, Inc.
CityNew York, New York
KeywordsChenopodium berlandieri, Cucurbita pepo, Eastern Agricultural Complex, Eastern North America, Helianthus annuus, Iva annua, Maize–beans–squash agriculture, Plant domestication, Prehistoric agriculture

At European Contact, eastern North American Indian agriculture featured the New World cosmopolitan ‘‘three sisters:’’ maize, beans, and squash. Maize and beans had diffused from the tropics as domesticates, as did some squashes. The dominance of this triad in temperate eastern North America was recent. Maize became an important crop only about 1000 years ago, and beans entered the
region at 850 b.p. But before maize became preeminent—as early as 3500 b.p.—there was an ‘‘Eastern Agricultural Complex’’ (EAC), which consisted of several indigenous crops. EAC was largely an indigeneous development; its origins can be traced back at least 7300 years.