Prehistoric prize veg

2019-03-03 10:11:04

NEW World farmers in the mangrove swamps of Ecuador were nurturing prize vegetables as long as 10,000 years ago. The discovery overturns the conventional idea that farming in the Americas began in the cool highlands. Archaeologist Dolores Piperno has spent years trying to prove that the first New World farmers lived in the lowland forests. Now she may have the proof: the discovery in ancient rubbish dumps of microscopic crystals from the rinds of Cucurbita plants – which include marrows, gourds and cucumbers – dated 10,000 years ago. The crystals, or phytoliths,