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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)
There is considerable controversy over whether pre-Columbian (pre-A.D. 1492) Amazonia was largely "pristine" and sparsely populated by slash-and-burn agriculturists, or instead a densely populated, domesticated landscape, heavily altered by extensive deforestation and anthropogenic burning. The discovery of hundreds of large geometric earthworks beneath(More)
Molecular evidence indicates that the wild ancestor of maize is presently native to the seasonally dry tropical forest of the Central Balsas watershed in southwestern Mexico. We report here on archaeological investigations in a region of the Central Balsas located near the Iguala Valley in Guerrero state that show for the first time a long sequence of human(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)
Maize (Zea mays ssp. mays) is among the world's most important and ancient domesticated crops. Although the chronology of its domestication and initial dispersals out of Mexico into Central and South America has become more clear due to molecular and multiproxy archaeobotanical research, important problems remain. Among them is the paucity of information on(More)
Seasonally flooded South American savannas harbor different kinds of mound-field landscapes of largely unknown origin. A recent study used soil carbon-isotope depth profiles and other proxies to infer vegetation history in murundu landscapes in Brazil. Results suggested that differential erosion, not building-up processes (e.g., termite mounds), produced(More)
The scale and nature of pre-Columbian human impacts in Amazonia are currently hotly debated. Whereas pre-Columbian people dramatically changed the distribution and abundance of species and habitats in some parts of Amazonia, their impact in other parts is less clear. Pioneer research asked whether their effects reached even further, changing how ecosystems(More)
Multidisciplinary investigations at the Los Ajos archaeological mound complex in the wetlands of southeastern Uruguay challenge the traditional view that the La Plata basin was inhabited by simple groups of hunters and gatherers for much of the pre-Hispanic era. Here we report new archaeological, palaeoecological and botanical data indicating that during an(More)
The nature and scale of pre-Columbian land use and the consequences of the 1492 "Columbian Encounter" (CE) on Amazonia are among the more debated topics in New World archaeology and paleoecology. However, pre-Columbian human impact in Amazonian savannas remains poorly understood. Most paleoecological studies have been conducted in neotropical forest(More)