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"Bai Kui", the True Garden; "Ava-Ti", the White Population: Horticultural Intensification in Lowland South America

Author(s): Paul R. M. Miller ; Paola Cortez Bianchini ; Paola May Rebollar ; Marta Adriana Pedri ; Luis Renato Nascimento

Year: 2017

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The "true garden" or "Bai Kui" of the Kashinawá, Pano language speakers in the state of Acre, Brazil, is described here as an example of the original horticulture which occupied the arc of dry forests in southeastern Amazon. Improved forms of manioc, peanuts, and peppers evolved during 9,000 years of cultivation and were exchanged with farmers on the Pacific Coast to improve garden diversity in an ancient and far-flung cultural interaction sphere. The connectivity required for long-distance exchange of constantly evolving germplasm, explains the presence of these crops in the iconography of the Tello Obelisk. A second, more commoditized, form of horticulture based on maize and bitter manioc, is associated with Tupi-Guarani and Arawak speakers, who adopted and further developed a powerful form of maize breeding based on population genetics. This genetic system, here called "Ava-Ti," or "white population," uses color in maize kernels to control gene flow between distinct maize populations. Planting and harvesting short-cycled, highly productive maize on fertile soils, and the storage and redistribution of cereal maize and bitter manioc flour, created new forms of territorial expansion during the last 3,000 years, eventually reaching the Andean foothills, southern Brazil, and the Caribbean islands.

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"Bai Kui", the True Garden; "Ava-Ti", the White Population: Horticultural Intensification in Lowland South America. Paul R. M. Miller, Paola Cortez Bianchini, Paola May Rebollar, Marta Adriana Pedri, Luis Renato Nascimento. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429077)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 12126

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America