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Study finds maize in diets of people in coastal Peru dates to 5,000 years ago
Date:2/25/2013

Coprolites (preserved fecal material) provide the best direct evidence of prehistoric diet. Among 62 coprolites analyzed of all types 34 human, 16 domesticated dog, and others from various animals 43 (or 69 percent) contained maize starch grains, phytoliths, or other remains. Of the 34 human coprolites, 23 (or 68 percent) contained evidence of maize. (The second most common grain in humans came from sweet potatoes.) Coprolites also showed that fish, mostly anchovies, did provide the primary protein in the diet, but not the calories.

The researchers concluded that the prevalence of maize in multiple contexts and in multiple sites indicates this domesticated food crop was grown widely in the area and constituted a major portion of the local diet, and it was not used just on ceremonial occasions. The research ultimately confirms the importance of agriculture in providing a strong economic base for the rise of complex, centralized societies in the emergence of the world's civilizations.


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Source:Eurekalert

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