Dolores R. Piperno

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The nature and causes of the disappearance of Neanderthals and their apparent replacement by modern humans are subjects of considerable debate. Many researchers have proposed biologically or technologically mediated dietary differences between the two groups as one of the fundamental causes of Neanderthal disappearance. Some scenarios have focused on the(More)
We have investigated the phylogenetic relationships among six wild and six domesticated taxa of Cucurbita using as a marker an intron region from the mitochondrial nad1 gene. Our study represents one of the first successful uses of a mtDNA gene in resolving inter- and intraspecific taxonomic relationships in Angiosperms and yields several important insights(More)
Native American populations are known to have cultivated a large number of plants and domesticated them for their starch-rich underground organs. Suggestions that the likely source of many of these crops, the tropical forest, was an early and influential centre of plant husbandry have long been controversial because the organic remains of roots and tubers(More)
Questions that still surround the origin and early dispersals of maize (Zea mays L.) result in large part from the absence of information on its early history from the Balsas River Valley of tropical southwestern Mexico, where its wild ancestor is native. We report starch grain and phytolith data from the Xihuatoxtla shelter, located in the Central Balsas(More)
The origin of agriculture was a signal development in human affairs and as such has occupied the attention of scholars from the natural and social sciences for well over a century. Historical studies of climate and vegetation are closely associated with crop plant evolution because they can reveal the ecological contexts of plant domestication together with(More)
Accelerator mass spectrometry age determinations of maize cobs (Zea mays L.) from Guilá Naquitz Cave in Oaxaca, Mexico, produced dates of 5,400 carbon-14 years before the present (about 6,250 calendar years ago), making those cobs the oldest in the Americas. Macrofossils and phytoliths characteristic of wild and domesticated Zea fruits are absent from older(More)
Chili peppers (Capsicum spp.) are widely cultivated food plants that arose in the Americas and are now incorporated into cuisines worldwide. Here, we report a genus-specific starch morphotype that provides a means to identify chili peppers from archaeological contexts and trace both their domestication and dispersal. These starch microfossils have been(More)
Dietary reconstructions based on plant microfossils, such as starch grains and phytoliths, have been useful in increasing our understanding of past human populations. Microfossils have been recovered from sediments, stone tools, and, more recently, dental calculus. Methods for recovering microfossils from dental calculus have yet to be firmly established(More)
Locally extensive pre-Columbian human occupation and modification occurred in the forests of the central and eastern Amazon Basin, but whether comparable impacts extend westward and into the vast terra firme (interfluvial) zones, remains unclear. We analyzed soils from 55 sites across central and western Amazonia to assess the history of human occupation.(More)
[1] The effect of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on tropical rainfall variations of the past 2 millennia is largely unknown. High-resolution monsoon records are sparse, despite the role of ENSO in generating global hydrologic anomalies in modern climate. To investigate the relationship between ENSO and the Central American Monsoon, we generated a(More)