Non-domesticated cultivation in the Andes: plant management and nurturing in the Argentine northwest
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- Lema, V.S. Veget Hist Archaeobot (2015) 24: 143. doi:10.1007/s00334-014-0494-7
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This contribution summarizes archaeobotanical analyses dealing with the identification of practices such as cultivation of morphologically wild or weedy plants, as opposed to the gathering and cultivation of morphologically domestic plants, in northwestern Argentina. The presence of “intermediate” forms of Cucurbita maxima (squash) and Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) together with their wild and domestic counterparts in the same archaeological contexts suggests the presence of wild/weedy/domestic crop complexes in the past. Practices which lead to these kinds of complexes (allowing the presence of wild relatives and interbreeding) seems to represent a long term modality of people-plant interaction in northwest Argentina detected in archaeological sites of different ages, spanning from 2,000 bp until modern local communities. This evidence, together with other morpho-anatomical traits of macro remains showing low standardization in size and shape (highly diverse biometric and qualitative features), points to a low incidence of selective pressures in crop populations throughout cultural development of the area. This argues for a horticultural system as opposed to large scale agriculture, entailing “mutual nurturing” which for this region demonstrates an alternative to the classic model of domestication.