Lecture 4 reading 4_2 - Reading 4-2 1 READING 4-2 A....

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1 READING 4-2 A. Candolle 1890. Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 387–397 D. Appleton and Company, New York. Maize – Zea mays , Linnaeus “Maize is of American origin, and has only been introduced into the old world since the discovery of the new. I consider these two assertions as positive, in spite of the contrary opinion of some authors, and the doubts of the celebrated agriculturist Bonafous, to whom we are indebted for the most complete treatise upon maize.” 1 I used these words in 1855, after having already contested the opinion of Bonafous at the time of the publication of his work. 2 The proofs of an American origin have been since reinforced. Yet at- tempts have been made to prove the contrary, and as the French name, blé de Turquie, gives currency to an error, it is as well to resume the discussion with new data. No one denies that maize was unknown in Europe at the time of the Roman empire, but it has been said that it was brought from the East in the Middle Ages. The principal argument is based upon a charter of the thirteenth century, published by Molinari, 3 according to which two crusaders, companions in arms of Boniface III, Marquis of Monferrat, gave in 1204 to the town of Incisa a piece of the true cross. .. and a purse containing a kind of seed of a golden colour and partly white, unknown in the country and brought from Anatolia, where it was called meliga, etc. The historian of the crusades, Michaux, and later Daru and Sismondi, said a great deal about this charter; but the botanist Delile, as well as Targionitozzetti and Bonafous himself, thought that the seed in question might belong to some sorghum and not to maize. These old discussions have been rendered absurd by the Comte de Riant’s discovery 4 that the charter of Incisa is the fabrication of a modern impostor. I quote this instance to show how scholars who are not naturalists may make mistakes in the interpretation of the names of plants, and also how dangerous it is to rely upon an isolated proof in historical questions. The names blé de Turquie, Turkish wheat (Indian corn), given to maize in almost all modern European languages no more prove an Eastern origin than the charter of Incisa. These names are as erroneous as that of coq d’Inde, in English turkey, given to an American bird. Maize is called in Lorraine and in the Vosges Roman corn; in Tuscany, Sicilian corn; in Sicily, Indian corn; in the Pyrenees, Spanish corn; in Provence, Barbary or Guinea corn. The Turks call it Egyptian corn, and the Egyptians, Syrian dourra . This last case proves at least that it is neither Egyptian nor Syrian. The widespread name of Turkish wheat dates from the sixteenth century. It sprang from an error as to the origin of the plant, which was fostered perhaps by the tufts which terminate the ears of maize, which were compared to the beard of the Turks, or, by the, vigour of the plant, which may have given rise to an expression similar to the French fort comme un turc . The fi rst botanist who uses the name, Turkish wheat, is Ruellius, in 1536.
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This note was uploaded on 04/03/2011 for the course HIST 302a taught by Professor Staff during the Summer '08 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.

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Lecture 4 reading 4_2 - Reading 4-2 1 READING 4-2 A....

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