BRANTFORD — A mass of quinoa seeds excavated from an archeological dig at a Brantford construction site has been identified as being 3,000 years old.
The discovery made in 2010 has since been raising questions about the extent of trade among Indigenous peoples at the time — something that oral history has said was extremely extensive.
In 2007, Smithsonian researchers and colleagues reported that across the Americas, chilli peppers were cultivated and traded as early as 6,000 years ago which predates the invention of pottery in some areas of the Americas. Their findings contribute significantly to the current understanding of ancient agricultural practices in the Americas as well as trade.
Quinoa is an Andean food staple that originated in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. This grain was cultivated and used by pre-Columbian civilizations and was replaced by cereals on the arrival of the Spanish, although being a staple food at the time.
The 140,000 seeds, which originate from the Kentucky-Tennessee area, seem as if they were “processed for delivery,” said Prof. Gary Crawford of department of anthropology at the University of Toronto.
He said that no one has reported this type of quinoa in Ontario before, and the discovery leads to more questions than answers, especially when it comes to trade.
The grain is believed to have been first domesticated between 3,000 and 5,000 years B.C.E, and is considered to be the “supergrain” as it is high in fibre and high-quality protein.
In fact, it contains more protein than any other grain while also packing in iron and potassium. One half cup of quinoa has 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fibre, and this would make its trade and use extremely helpful in feeding indigenous nations — ten plants would haul about one pound of the seed.
The findings were published in the December 2018 issue of American Antiquity.