SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: common potato, white potato, Irish potato CATEGORY: flora DEFINITION: One of some 150 tuber-bearing species of the genus Solanum (family Solanaceae). The potato is considered by most botanists a native of the Peruvian-Bolivian Andes and is one of the world's main food crops. At the time of the Spanish conquest, potatoes were grown all over the highlands from Colombia to Chile. Unlike maize, the potato flourishes at high altitudes and was the basic staple of many of the societies of the Altiplano, such as Tiahunaco.
CATEGORY: flora DEFINITION: Food plant native to tropical America and widely cultivated in tropical and the warmer temperate climates, not to be confused with the yam. It is reported from sites in Peru as early as 8000 BC. During the mid-1st millennium AD, the sweet potato was carried by prehistoric voyagers into eastern Polynesia and became important in the prehistoric economies of Easter Island, the Hawaiian Islands, and New Zealand. It spread further after Spanish settlement of the New World; since the 16th century it has been very important to the New Guinea Highlands.
CATEGORY: artifact DEFINITION: A large, two-handled silvercup decorated with gold, gilt bronze, and enamel, that is one of the finest examples of early Christian art from the British Isles. Discovered in 1868 along with a small bronzecup and four brooches in a potatofield in Ardagh, Ireland, the chalice may have been part of the buried loot form a monastery after an Irish or Viking raid. The outside of the bowl is engraved with the Latin names of some of the Apostles. There are similarities between the letters of the inscription and some of the large initials in the Lindisfarne Gospels, which probably dates from about 710-720 AD. Thus, the Ardagh Chalice is thought to date from the first half of the 8th century. The chalice displays exceptional artistic and technical skills applied to a variety of precious materials. So far, its manufacture has not been attributed to a particular workshop but the chalice does have similarities to the celebrated Tarabrooch and the Moylough belt-reliquary. It is now housed in the National Museum of Ireland at Dublin.
CATEGORY: site; culture DEFINITION: Archaeological complexdating from 3000-1750 BC in the Ayacucho valley of Peru. It showed the first evidence of an economic system in which products of lower-elevation villages and camps (corn, beans, squash, gourd, chile, coca) were exchanged for potatoes, quinoa, and camelids of the seasonally nomadic herders of the higher elevations.
CATEGORY: term DEFINITION: The raising of plants by man for his use; deliberate propagation of a species primarily for its fruit, seed, leaf, or fiber. Cultivation greatly increased and stabilized man's food supply. The change from food gathering to food production has been called the Neolithic Revolution, and was one of the most important advances in human development. The first among Old World crops were wheat and barley, developed as cultivated species c 7th millennium BC. To these were added oats and rye in Europe, millet in Asia, and sorghum in Africa. In the Americas, the process was equally slow. First crops included beans, cotton, gourds, maize, manioc, potatoes, and squashes.
CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: South American Indians who, at the time of the Spanish conquest in 1532, ruled an empire that extended along the Pacific coast and Andean highlands from the northern border of modern Ecuador to the Maule River in central Chile. The Inca established their capital at Cuzco (Peru) in the 12th century. They began their conquests in the early 15th century and within 100 years had gained control of an Andean population of about 12,000,000 people. These Quechua-speaking tribes' origins are uncertain. Their vast empire had a centralized organization and at its head was the ruler, 'Son of the Sun', worshipped as a god in his own lifetime. As a divine king he was above the law, and as a despotic ruler he was very much the political head of the state. Administration was in the hands of officials drawn from the Inca nobility and from the chiefs of conquered tribes. An efficient roadsystem, along which relays of messengers could travel 250 km in a day, ensured that Cuzco was kept informed of developments all over the empire. These same roads allowed Inca forces to be quickly moved into any province which showed signs of rebellion. This centralization was both the strength and the weakness of the Incastate. The unifying force was the ruler in person, and the death of Huayna Capac precipitated a crisis. Civil war broke out when two of his sons, Huascar and Atahuallpa, disputed the succession. Atahuallpa won the war, but before he could consolidate his position he was seized and murdered by Francisco Pizarro's Spaniards in 1532. Without a leader the Incasystem could not function. Most of the empire was quickly brought under Spanish control, but an independent Inca group held out in the Urubamba valley until 1572. Viracocha Inca was the creator, culture hero, and supreme deity of the Inca, but the religion embraced a pantheon of gods of nature. The most actively worshipped were the sun and, by extension, the emperor, who was considered the son of the sun. The Temple of the Sun, built at the pre-Incan ceremonial center of Pachacamac suggests some incorporation of earlier religions. Archaeologically, the Incaculture is characterized by fine quality stone masonry, agricultural terraces, mass-produced and standardized pottery forms (aryballus), and metal objects. The considerable architectural skill of the Inca is reflected in Cyclopean masonry, although many buildings were constructed using rectangular dressed stone blocks as well as adobe. The basic dwelling-unit was a cluster of single rooms arranged around a rectangular courtyard and was most often enclosed by a wall. Writing was unknown, but the quipu was used for keeping records. Agriculture was based on plant foods, especially potato, manioc, quinoa, and maize. Domesticated animals included dog, llama, cava (guinea pig), and alpaca. Fine textiles were woven using a simple backstraploom. The civilization was the largest and most powerful political unit in all the prehistoric America. It has been argued that the whole of Inca achievement relied heavily on a variety of political, societal and religious infrastructures already in place before their ascendancy.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A Maori Pa near Tauranga, New Zealand, which has revealed several phases of Classic Maori ditch and bank fortification from c 1500-1750 AD. The interior of the pa contained large numbers of sweet potato storage pits. The swamp preserved many artifacts, including wooden combs.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: An area at the southern limit of New Zealand's North Island with Archaic Maori sites associated with sweet potato cultivation, attesting a fairly large horticultural population between 1100-1400 AD. After 1450 the area became depopulated, due to environmental degradation and an adverse climatic change. Settlements and burials have been excavated
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Fortified site in Tiromoana, New Zealand, with sweet potato storage pits with very early dates, possibly to the earliest settlement.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Tiwanaku CATEGORY: site; culture DEFINITION: Large urban and ceremonial site which dominated the Titicaca Basin and the high Andes of Bolivia from c 100-1250 AD, a major Middle Horizon site and probably the capital of an empire. The central area has principal religious structures on a large rectangular plaza, a large U-shaped mound around a spring, and a monumental Gate of the Sun cut from a single block of stone. The Tiahuanaco people had trade links with the Amazon jungle and the Pacific coast, exporting potatoes, root crops, and llama products. In the 10th century, Tiahuanaco colonies were established on the coasts of southern Peru and northern Chile. Tiahuanaco's distinctive art and architectural styles influenced the central highlands and southern Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. Tiahuanacan influence spread over a wide area of the Central Andes and is especially evident because of its unique ceramics. Typically, pottery was pointed black-on-white on a red polished surface, although later styles employed as many as six colors. Geometric designs were common as well as stylized pumas, condors, and serpents. The kero (a flared-rimbeaker) is a characteristic form. Articles of bronze, copper and gold suggest that the city may also have been an important metallurgical center. Iconographic links with Huari to the north are such that a strong economic and cultural bond between the two is assumed. Tiahuanaco and Huari together constitute the Middle Horizon style of the Andes.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Earthwork hillfort on Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand, with early storage pits for sweet potatoes dated to c1000 AD. This is evidence that Maoris grew sweet potatoes form initial settlement of New Zealand. The main ditch and bank defenses with palisades were built between 1400-1600.