TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 10 (UPI) -- U.S. anthropologists have found evidence of ancient maize farming in the Gulf Coast region near Tabasco, Mexico.
Florida State University anthropology Professor Mary Pohl and colleagues discovered farmers in Mexico were cultivating an early form of maize, the forerunner of modern corn, about 7,300 years ago -- 1,200 years earlier than scholars previously thought.
Pohl conducted an analysis of sediments in the region and concluded people were planting crops in the "New World" of the Americas around 5,300 B.C.
"These are significant new findings that fill out knowledge of the patterns of early farming," said Pohl. "It expands on research that demonstrates that maize spread quickly from its hearth of domestication in southwest Mexico to southeast Mexico and other tropical areas in the New World, including Panama and South America."
The results of Pohl's study -- conducted with Dolores Piperno of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington; Kevin Pope of Geo Arc Research; and John Jones of Washington State University -- appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.