Phytolith Evidence for Twentieth-Century B.P. Maize in Northern Iroquoia

TitlePhytolith Evidence for Twentieth-Century B.P. Maize in Northern Iroquoia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsThompson, RG, Hart, JP, Brumbach, HJ, Lusteck, R
JournalNortheast Anthropology
Keywordscooking residue analysis, crop histories, maize, New York, phytoliths, Zea mays ssp. mays

The history of maize (Zea mays) in historic northern Iroquoia has recently undergone significant revisions. Macrobotanical finds in southern Ontario and opal phytolith assemblages recovered from pottery sherd cooking residues in the northern Finger Lakes region of New York suggest that maize has a history dating to as early as circa calibrated 1400 B.P. in the region. In this article we provide new phytolith evidence that suggest maize’s presence in New York by circa calibrated 1900 B.P. This evidence suggests that maize was being used in the region for at least a millennium before the advent of northern Iroquoian subsistence-settlement traits and that the crop’s adoption was not responsible for the development of those traits.