Over 30 years ago, Paul Minnis (1985) proposed the distinction between ‘pristine domestication’ and ‘primary crop acquisition’. The former refers to the initial domestication of wild plant resources and is characterised by only a dozen or so places in the world, most notably China, the Near East and Mesoamerica. The latter refers to the local integration of crops that were domesticated elsewhere and is the more common process. The American Southwest, here defined as the U.S. states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua, is a classic case of primary crop acquisition. Cultigens, first maize and then squash and beans, originally domesticated in Mesoamerica, were brought north by immigrant groups who joined with local hunter-gatherer communities. The introduction of these cultigens did not initiate major immediate changes in ecological or social relationships, instead the shift to agriculture as the central subsistence practice took millennia. Just why this is the case continues to be hotly debated. The two volumes under review offer new data and valuable syntheses relevant to scholars interested in the interrelationships between the adoption of cultigens, mixed mobility strategies, and trade and exchange relationships.
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