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Latin America perspective is a series of information and comment about Latin America with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. These programs are recorded by station WFIU FM. Here now is Dr. Gardner. It's a common expression that phrase Time marches on but determining how long it has been marching on is an uncommon activity. Most of us by the nature of our lives keep such a firm focus on the money Ana that we are only mildly aware of the labor centered on distant days before yesterday. In fact a combination of romance and reality attends the workers bent upon pushing back the front ears of pre-history romance I say because all of us have seen pictorially and have read romantic phrases of those explorers those archaeologists who have turned back
time in Egypt and those who in other areas of the world under the heading of archaeologists have given us an extended dimension of history in the New World. There is no area so rich in that which can be rolled back by the archaeologist as is Mexico. There the Toltecs to the north of present day Mexico City and the Aztecs in the setting that is the Valley of Mexico as well as to the south. The mystics Zappa Tex and the Maja all had cultures that were high enough indeed so achieving that it is worth our while to push the time factor back that veils for us an awareness of what their civilizations were like. Insatiable curiosity about the origins of new world civilization and agriculture that basis of civilization means it which means
Indian corn here lead archaeologist r s McNish to undertake a hunt that eventually led him to a cave in the arid telecon valley of the central Mexico. There in one thousand sixty he found what he believed to be his goal. The Temple Khan archaeological botanical project sponsored by the RSA Peabody Foundation has taken advantage of his initial discovery under his leadership field party spent four seasons searching through rubbish of long dead towns and millennia old litter of hunting parties for traces of early corn and its wild ancestors and for evidence the first evidence of civilization in the Americas. They succeeded in establishing an unbroken record spanning 9000 years and covering most aspects of man's life. This is the longest continuous record of man's economic activities yet found
anywhere. A team of scholars many trained in fields other than archaeology have interpreted for us the significance of this record. The first of six volumes dealing with the work in the Khan Valley is now before us in titled the prehistory of the Khan Valley. It is edited by Douglas S. Byers with Volume 1. Treating environment and subsistence. This first volume and the rest of the series will come from the University of Texas press. But first a word about to walk on the setting for this experiment in culture. There is a city named Khan. Indeed it's one of the most important cities of the state of Puebla a state which is immediately to the east of Mexico City. Close upon the border of the state of Puebla and the State of the haka is the
town of Taylor Khan. It has been variously interpreted that name to mean place of the gods or place of stones one might humorously combine the two and suggest its the place of the stone gods to walk on valley between high rugged folds of mountains extends for some 60 to 80 miles north south in southeastern Mexico. It enjoys a hot dry climate with the rains occurring there chiefly into periods of six to eight weeks each between mid May mid July and between late August and late September. The winters ordinarily dry and it was in that period in particular that the scientists moved in to do most of the work necessary for their project. We have in terms of the project. The interdisciplinary
approach which has combined that labors and analysis of the archaeologist the botanist zoologist geologist an anthropologist indeed. It becomes a clear proof that the farther one goes back in time the thinner any one man's ability is to trace an erring lady the tendencies to stay close to the line that would be called historical truth. The resulting volume. This is the first on environment and subsistence deals primarily with fields other than archaeology. This is the work of the geologist. The work of the geographer and yet until one knows the face of the land and knows the activities upon the face of the land and the botanist is also present in this volume. It is not possible to establish the
hypothesis. It is not possible to speculate intelligently regarding what it is that one is searching for. One must go from the known the present back. And so in this volume are included data bearing on the domestication of Native American plants and their subsequent improvement findings regarding the domestication of maize or as we would put it more commonly. Corn should answer many questions concerning the origin of this important crop plant but as does all research even as it answers some questions it opens even more. The purpose of the project then in the main is to investigate the development of agriculture and the simultaneous rise of civilization in middle or meso america. The area of research was to be the tail walk on Valley in the Mexican states a problem with an interdisciplinary
approach that utilized the skills of any and every appropriate scientific field. The immediate objects were as follows. To find and excavate a series of stratified sites with preserved remains of plants and animals used as food by the inhabitants. Secondly to establish a relative in an absolute chronology far the table conversely then to reconstruct as completely as possible changes in Aboriginal patterns of subsistence and to bring this information to bear on the problem of the origin and spread of agriculture in the New World. Also it was intended to reconstruct the cultural pattern of each stage of the complete Toey walk on sequence and to compare the sequence with similar ones found in other parts of the world. In the hope of learning how civilization develops and why it
develops and so teams of men with a variety of abilities went into this remote area of Mexico. Beginning with the season one thousand nine hundred sixty one. And in subsequent years have systematically approach their studies there. This is an area I would remind you in which today the rugged way of life. This is a bit offbeat from the patterns of growth within the Mexican nation finds the population primarily Indian. It's an area in which the tools the instruments will include the wooden plow the oxen. You have a certain primitiveness then that is there to begin with and they are pushing back the frontiers of the primitive. But it's interesting to note that as they have with their research come forth with many items which are as artifacts being investigated in terms of time sequence and cultural relationships.
That it is proved better to resort to certain pictorial manuscripts which are sometimes called carcasses dealing with the history and religion of the area than it is to deal with the other ancient or modern secondary sources. Many of the indigenous peoples of Mexico among them the Aztecs Madea's sapa Tex and Mr Tex painted such books pictorial representations in their late pre Hispanic times or even during the years immediately following the Spanish conquest. Some of these carcasses bear comments written in Spanish are now wattle to explain the pictures and so these representations of life 400 500 years ago become significant in that many of the items found today in the caves in the dry caves of the table conversely have been the areas to yield the great finds for
the archaeologists the ethnologists and the other students. These have become important by way of the comparisons and relationship they know to certain of the old pictorial records. Some in particular. Well indeed that of the aquatics Borgia seems to have a very close relationship to these materials suggesting that even the valley of telecon. Offbeat as far as the early sweep of the Spanish conquest was concerned was a significant culture. It was bypassed and there were numbers of people. It was a way of life. The deserve more attention than it actually received as of the 16th and 17th century years. We have had some of the students in the area determining the animals that would be found there. Antelopes deer peccary. Cody Fox skunk squirrel
raccoon gopher snakes all these remnants are remnants of same are to be found in the stratigraphic studies that these scientists have been making. We have certain conclusions that have been reached concerning the fauna of the area. Hunting continued in the periods down to fifteen hundred but never under scale seen in the pre pottery days and in fact the evidence to date suggests that by the time of the Conquest domestic animals represented at least 20 percent of the animals eaten in the valley which suggests of course then a great deal that was sedentary and advanced regarding the culture of the prehistoric remains of maize found in the valley. In five caves are such as to lead to some startling conclusions. The oldest well preserved Cobbs available for botanical analysis
have been found. This maze seems to portray a well defined evolutionary sequence covering a period of about six thousand five hundred years. This is one of the best studies of maize yet found. It is evident then that the experts are giving us in Volume 1 the prehistory of the table convo alley environment and subsistence. A statement that will later be popularized this a publication of the University of Texas press. This was another programme in the series Latin America perspectives with Dr S. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program when Dr. Gardner will comment on another interesting aspect of Latin American affairs. These programs are recorded by station WFIU FM and are made available to this station by the national educational radio network.
Latin American perspectives II
Episode Number
Episode 11 of 38
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3544. This prog.: The Prehistory of the Tehuacan Valley: Environment and Subsistence
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-31-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:41
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 11 of 38,” 1968-11-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
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APA: Latin American perspectives II; Episode 11 of 38. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from