Accelerator radiocarbon dating of evidence for prehistoric horticulture in Illinois

Nicholas Conard, David L. Asch, Nancy B. Asch, David Elmore, Harry Gove, Meyer Rubin, James A. Brown, Michael D. Wiant, Kenneth B. Farnsworth, Thomas G. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

With the development of direct detection radiocarbon dating, which uses an accelerator as part of a highly selective mass spectrometer, it is now possible to determine the age of milligram samples of organic materials1-5. One application of accelerator dating is in evaluating scanty, sometimes controversial evidence for early horticulture throughout the world. We have now used the technique to date small samples of carbonized, cultivated plant remains from archaeological sites in Illinois. The results, reported here, establish (1) that squash was introduced by 7,000 yr ago, 2,500 yr before eastern North American records previously reported; (2) that horticulture involving indigenous plants had begun by 4,000 BP in eastern North America with domestication of Iva annua, a small-seeded annual; (3) that anomalous discoveries of Archaic period maize represent contaminants; and (4) that introduction of maize by initial Middle Woodland times (∼2,000 BP) is questionable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-446
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume308
Issue number5958
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Accelerator radiocarbon dating of evidence for prehistoric horticulture in Illinois'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this