Belize: Burial Site Reveals Humans First Starting Eating Maize
Archaeologists studying an ancient Maya settlement in Belize have made what can only be called an “amaizeing” discovery. Is that pun too corny? We apologize, but there’s no other way to describe this finding.
They’ve concluded that people have been eating maize or corn for thousands of years. Why does this matter? It means they are getting close to pinpointing the era when humans turned from being hunters to being farmers.
Digging Up the Truth
Scientists from the University of Exeter in the UK recently completed their intensive study of human remains that were buried in the Maya Mountains. It’s possible the remains have been there for 10,000 years, but the scientists couldn’t be specific about that. The remains were surprisingly well-preserved.
They could be specific about other findings, however, especially those related to the diet of these people. Their findings show that, contrary to previous theories, people were eating corn more than 4000 years ago.
They clearly liked it, because there was evidence they were eating large amounts of it.
Are Maize and Corn the Same Thing?
Because it can be confusing, let’s clarify this issue first.
Maize and corn are the same thing. When the English colonists arrived in the new world, the native people introduced them to a plant they called maize. The English labeled this plant Indian corn. Over time, genetic modifications led to corn with the uniformly yellow, sweet kernels that we think of as corn today.
The term Indian corn refers to colorful, heirloom corncobs that frequently grace a holiday table decoration. You can turn Indian corn into popcorn or flour, but most people use it decoratively.
How They Discovered the Maya Menu
How did scientists discover what these ancient Maya were eating? They used a technique called radiocarbon dating of the bones.
They estimated that 4700 years ago, corn or maize accounted for one-third of peoples’ diets. About 700 years later, it accounted for 70% of the typical human diet.
The findings show that corn has always been an important crop. It’s still important today, when it accounts for a large percentage of the human diet globally. Every country is highly dependent on corn and corn products.
Belize Is Filled With Fascination
In Belize, you can make one fascinating discovery after another. You’ll never run of out of things to do and see in our beautiful country.