The Paleobiolinguistics of Domesticated Squash (Cucurbita spp.)


Historical-comparative linguistics is used to explore the domestication and spread of squash (Cucurbita spp.) in the Americas. Information relating to the reconstruction of words for squash for major New World ancestral languages, such as Proto-Catawba-Siouan, ProtoOtomanguean, and Proto-Arawakan, are assembled. is information is compared chronologically and geographically with crop-origin ndings from archaeology and botany. Dates for the earliest archaeologically retrieved remains of domesticated squash tend to be on the average 3000 years older than the earliest linguistic dates, suggesting that squash typically developed considerable signi cance for precontact people only well a er rst being domesticated. Linguistic evidence also indicates that squash acquired considerable salience and broad distribution in Mesoamerica much earlier than elsewhere in the New World.