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Pre-Historic Cucurbits from the Valley of Oaxaca

Thomas W. Whitaker and Hugh C. Cutler
Economic Botany
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1971), pp. 123-127
Published by: Springer on behalf of New York Botanical Garden Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4253237
Page Count: 5
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Pre-Historic Cucurbits from the Valley of Oaxaca
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Abstract

About 180 specimens of cucurbits were recovered from the Guila Naquitz Cave in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, from strata dated at 8750-7840 B.C. to 1500 A.D. by Carbon-14 $enalyses.^{4}$ Almost 60% of the cucurbit specimens were of wild species of Cucurbita. A single seed may be that of the perennial squash or fig-leaf gourd, C. ficifolia Bouché. All other cultivated squash material was C. pepo L., the summer squash. Cucurbita pepo prefers cool, dry environmental conditions. This suggests that farmers utilized the cave on a seasonal basis, because cultivars of C. pepo mature later and store better than those of C. moschata Poir. or C. mixta Pang., which would normally be the species expected to be cultivated at this latitude. Specimens of bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standl., were comparatively rare and comprised only 10% of the total. The scarcity of bottle gourd remains suggests that these gourds were not important for containers and household use even in preceramic levels, or that they simply did not break many of their vessels during the limited time they occupied the cave. A second possibility is that agriculture was carried out at higher and cooler elevations, which C. pepo prefers but which are unfavorable for Lagenaria. A few Apodanthera seeds were found at all levels.

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