Scientists from the University of Utah have found evidence that indigenous peoples of North America used wild potatoes for food 10 years ago.
The history of wild potato consumption prior to artificial cultivation by humans is well understood and was limited until recently to South America. So, in 2016, scientists received evidence that the Indians in the Andes cultivated potatoes about 5000 years ago. In North and Central America, at least 20 wild types of root crops are known from the genus Solanum (the nightshade family), but their importance in the diets of ancient Americans has not yet been established. American archaeologists filled this gap and made an analysis of starch granules found in one of the sites of ancient excavations.
Wild Potato Use Data Solanum tuberosum have already been obtained in South America, in the Casma Valley, Peru, and are dated to 7 years old, although scientists are not unanimous about whether these were wild or already domesticated plants. For the new study, scientists used finds from the North Creek Shelter in southern Utah. There were found numerous evidences of the vital activity of ancient people: hearths and pits, stone tools, remains of plants and animals. Excavations have revealed seven cultural layers dating back to 800 years ago.
Scientists examined the remains on the surface of 101 stone tools found here. The surfaces of 24 instruments contained 323 starch particles, of which nine granules were finally identified as belonging to a wild potato variety Solanum jamesii and 61 granules are defined as a likely particle of this plant. Radiocarbon analysis of stone tools on which the remains of potatoes were found showed an age of 10-900 years. And this discovery, according to scientists, is the earliest documented evidence of potato use in North America. And since potato came to Europe from America, it is perhaps the oldest potato remnant in the world.
Earlier, archaeologists have already found traces of the use of wild plants by people before the start of their cultivation. Thus, wild oats were used in Italy 32 years ago, and wild barley and wheat in Israel 600 years ago.
The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A source: https://chrdk.ru