Sunday, July 1, 2007

Discovery of Earliest Known Peanut, Cotton and Squash Farming

Science Daily:
Anthropologists working on the slopes of the Andes in northern Peru have discovered the earliest-known evidence of peanut, cotton and squash farming dating back 5,000 to 9,000 years. Their findings provide long-sought-after evidence that some of the early development of agriculture in the New World took place at farming settlements in the Andes.

A cotton ball dated to 5500 B.P. discovered in Northern Peru. (Credit: Tom Dillehay)

The discovery was published in the June 29 issue of Science.

The research team made their discovery in the √Ďanchoc Valley, which is approximately 500 meters above sea level on the lower western slopes of the Andes in northern Peru.

"We believe the development of agriculture by the √Ďanchoc people served as a catalyst for cultural and social changes that eventually led to intensified agriculture, institutionalized political power and new towns in the Andean highlands and along the coast 4,000 to 5,500 years ago," Tom D. Dillehay, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University and lead author on the publication, said. "Our new findings indicate that agriculture played a broader role in these sweeping developments than was previously understood."

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