Agriculture is a state of mind- the Andean potato’s unending domestication

Author(s): Christine Hastorf

Year: 2015


Most scholars agree that territoriality and commitment to a landscape participated in the domestication syndrome and agriculture. The geophyte Solanum, the potato, is a particularly engaging crop to study domestication origins, being a stem tuber, with wild species growing throughout the Andes of South America, it is only with recent genetic research that we know its likely location of domestication. Wild potatoes continue to be found in potato fields today, aiding the diverse varieties still being domesticated in the Andes. When we study early potato farming in the Andean highlands we rely upon archaeological evidence. The early dates we have suggest a long engagement with the potato, even before farming. While the archaeobotanical data are still scant for early geophytes in the Andes, the archaeological evidence allows us to conclude that Solanum was collected, processed and eaten from an early time, at least by 7000 BC. Through digging and disturbance, geophytes were encouraged to produce and thrive. This harvest-while-planting farming provides a unique agricultural trajectory for the domestication syndrome. Recent genetic work on potatoes’ origins suggest a long and continuous process of domestication.

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Cite this Record

Agriculture is a state of mind- the Andean potato’s unending domestication. Christine Hastorf. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395656)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;