Evidence for variability among squash seeds from the Hoxie site (11CK4), Illinois

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Abstract

Uncarbonized Cucurbita pepo L. (squash) seed coats were recovered from the base of a fortification ditch in water-saturated contexts at the Hoxie Farm site (11CK4) in northeastern Illinois. A direct date on one specimen indicated association with the Huber phase occupation, or about 1600 A.D. Sizes were highly variable, suggesting the presence of two or more squash varieties. To explore that possibility, length and width measurements were obtained for 21 specimens. A simple hierarchical cluster analysis revealed the presence of three distinct seed size groups. The two smaller conform to sizes displayed by modern varieties of subspecies ovifera which is the type domesticated in North America. Sizes for the third group of large seeds fall outside the range of any modern subspecies ovifera and within the range for the Mexican domesticate subspecies pepo. Similar large sized seeds first appear in the archaeological record from the Midwest during the Late Mississippian times. The potential for long-term prehistoric cultivation of two distinct lineages in the Midwest, and problems inherent in the scenario are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2079-2093
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume38
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Cucurbita pepo sp.
  • Hoxie Farm site
  • Late prehistoric squash cultivation
  • Midwestern United States
  • Numeric analysis
  • Squash seeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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