The Domestication and Migration of Zea mays L. in Association with Holocene Climatic Variance

Author(s): Kelsey Salmon Schreck; P. Nick Kardulias

Year: 2015


Maize is known to have originated in Mesoamerica from which it spread north and south adapting to many varied climatic and environmental conditions. This study details the origin of the species Zea mays L. The teosinte hypothesis and the concepts of seasonality and scheduling are used to discuss the domestication of maize by means of human selection. This information is used to highlight the basic circumstances necessary within a human population for maize agriculture to be adopted. Furthermore, climate is examined through the minimum and ideal environmental conditions needed for the successful growth of maize. Environmental cues play a profound role in the phenotypic characteristics a species exhibits; therefore, Holocene climatic events are examined in areas with extensive evidence of maize domestication. The minimum requirements for maize growth are compared against the actual conditions during periods of significant climatic change (Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, etc.). By comparing the ideal versus realized conditions over time, a model for the diffusion of maize from Mesoamerica into North America, with a particular focus on the Southwest and Ohio Valley, is developed.

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Cite this Record

The Domestication and Migration of Zea mays L. in Association with Holocene Climatic Variance. Kelsey Salmon Schreck, P. Nick Kardulias. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397587)

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min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;