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REEVALUATING THE EVIDENCE FOR MIDDLE WOODLAND MAIZE FROM THE HOLDING SITE

  • Mary L. Simon (a1)
Abstract

Maize fragments recovered from the Middle Woodland Holding site (11MS118) in the American Bottom have for several decades been recognized as the oldest directly dated maize east of the Mississippi River. A reevaluation of maize samples from this site indicates that finding was in error. Carbon isotope assessment (δ13C ratios) run on the original samples dated in 1994 indicated that they were not maize. Six additional samples originally identified as maize were submitted to the Illinois State Geological Survey for carbon ratio assessment and direct accelerated mass spectrometry dating. Three of the fragments, including one from the same feature dated previously, returned non-maize δ13C ratios. The other three samples were correctly identified as maize, but all returned post–A.D. 900 dates. These results invalidate the original report of Middle Woodland maize at Holding and support our ongoing reevaluations of maize histories in the American Bottom and western Illinois, which show that it was not an important cultivated crop plant in this part of the Midwest until about A.D. 900.

Los fragmentos de maíz recuperados en el sitio Holding (11MS118) del Periodo Middle Woodland en el “American Bottom” han sido reconocidos durante décadas como el maíz directamente datado más antiguo al este del río Mississippi. Una reevaluación de la muestra del maíz de este lugar indica que este hallazgo no fue acertado. Análisis de isótopos de carbono (índice de δ13C) llevados a cabo en las muestras originales fechadas en el año 1994 señalaron que no eran maíz. Seis muestras adicionales de Holding identificadas en principio como maíz fueron enviadas al Instituto Geológico del estado de Illinois para analizar su índice de carbono y ordenar el fechado por masa espectrométrica acelerada. Tres de los fragmentos, incluyendo uno del mismo rasgo fechado anteriormente, devolvió índices de δ13C distintos a los del maíz. Las otras tres muestras fueron correctamente identificadas como maíz, pero todas arrojaron fechas posteriores al 900 d.C. Estos resultados anulan el informe original del maíz durante el periodo Middle Woodland en Holding y respaldan nuestras reevaluaciones en curso sobre la historia del maíz en el “American Bottom” y al oeste de Illinois, que muestra que no era una planta de cultivo en esta parte del Medio Oeste hasta 900 d.C.

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