Inca Empire built on corn … and poop

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 23, 2011   View Article

The seeds of the Inca Empire were planted about 2,700 years ago when a warm spell combined with piles of llama excrement allowed maize agriculture to take root high up in the South American Andes, according to a new study.

“They were constructing fields and weeding them. And probably trading took off, made possible by llama caravans transporting goods, such as maize, coca leaves, salt and a ceremonial product called cinnabar,” Alex Chepstow-Lusty of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima told me Sunday in an email.

The finding is inferred by a record of pollen and mites in a core of mud taken from a small lake located at about 11,000 feet up in the Andes surrounded by agricultural terraces and next to an ancient trading route that connected tropical forest and mountain communities.

Related Posts

Can Data-Driven Agriculture Help Feed a Hungry World?

How the Beer Industry Sustains Pacific Northwest Farmlands

Many in U.S. Face Another Dry Year as World Water Day Arrives

Drink Beer? Take Showers? Better Worry About West’s Snowpack

Hungry Planet: Can Big Data Help Feed 9 Billion Humans?

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach