Two examples of potato-shaped ceramics from the Moche culture of Peru. L: Anthropomorphic potato vessel from 400 AD in the Larco Museum, Peru. R: Potato shaped vessel from the Larco Museum, Peru.L: Larco Museum / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA 3.0. R: Pattych / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA 3.0

We may think of potatoes as the most basic of foods, given their modern ubiquity and low cost, but in the Moche culture in ancient Peru, archaeologists had assumed they were highly charged symbols of the elite because they were found only in artifacts. New research, however, has shown that our understanding of New World potato consumption is biased by the fact the starchy vegetable is nearly always consumed in its entirety.

In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Archaeological Science, researchers Guy Duke of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Victor Vásquez-Sanchez and Teresa Rosales-Tham of Arqueobios in Peru outline their method of starch grain analysis from ceramic and stone artifacts to investigate the use of potatoes in the Moche diet.

Puno, Peru: Portrait of a young woman sitting among potatoes at her stall.

Their archaeological investigation focused on the site of Wasi Huachuma, located in the lower Jequetepeque valley of Peru, dating to 600-850 AD or the later years of the Moche culture. This site featured a platform mound, associated out buildings, burials, and a large residential area. The Moche civilization is well known for massive ritual structures like the pyramidal Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna, as well as for their extensively varied ceramic tradition that includes depictions of sex acts. Some Moche religious practices even involved ritual human sacrifice.

Given the rich history of impressive material culture, less research has been focused over the last century of archaeological investigation of the Moche into domestic contexts, including what food people were eating. But a recent turn in anthropological archaeology away from elite-only contexts to the remains of common people has greatly enriched the prehistory of cultures around the world.

At Wasi Huachuma, a number of artifacts related to food processing were discovered, such as grinding stones, cutters, scrapers, ceramic graters, and the remains of food items themselves. Preserved at the site were a number of animal bones, as well as maize kernels, squash seeds, beans, and chili peppers. These macrobotanical remains were found through sifting or floating of the dirt produced during archaeological excavation. But a macrobotanical approach misses any food item that is completely consumed, like the potato.

Potato plantation in Cusco, Peru

Potatoes were known to be present in the Moche culture, but previously archaeologists only knew them from artifacts such as bottles shaped like potatoes, many with human form. While the potato was first domesticated in southern Peru about 10,000 years ago, the archaeological evidence for potato production is slim to none. Between the lack of potato remains and their depiction in ritual style ceramics, many have assumed that potatoes were largely an elite food among the northern Moche.

To test this assumption, Duke and his colleagues took samples from a grinding stone and from multiple ceramic sherds discovered at Wasi Huachuma to look for microbotanical remains of potatoes. These residue samples were then examined under a microscope, comparing the characteristics of the botanical remains with known reference samples.

Duke and colleagues discovered that all ceramics that they tested contained potato starch, and two of the samples also yielded evidence of maize. What this means for the Moche diet, Duke tells me, is that potatoes “were boiled in a stew on the coast of Peru, although this does not mean they weren’t eaten in other ways. Roasting by putting things directly on hot coals or stones was a very common cooking method as well; this would be very hard to document archaeologically, as it would leave no residues on pots and the entire potato would likely have been consumed.”

A close up of a plate of Peruvian ceviche with Spanish onions, corn and sweet potato.

Potatoes figure prominently in contemporary Peruvian cuisine, Duke says, as a side to ceviche, antichucos, papas a la huancaina, and a number of other dishes, and he sees a tradition of this dating back centuries. “The Moche were not just eating maize, beans and squash — and manioc and chili peppers — with their seafood and fish,” he tells me, “but also potato, and probably a lot of it.”

While the yellow potato is the most frequently eaten today in Peru, Duke thinks a number of potato varietals may have been consumed in the past. “There are literally hundreds of varieties of potatoes documented in the Andes, with multiple colors and shapes,” he tells me. “But it is very difficult to see these varieties in the archaeological record, especially when dealing solely with starch grains.”

The only other example of potato recovered from a Moche context, Duke and his colleagues conclude in their article, were starch grains found in the dental plaque from a burial at another site called Huaca Cao Viejo. But these archaeologists believe that, in general, “the paucity of direct, physical evidence for potato from more Moche contexts is due to the over-reliance on macrobotanical analyses and the under-use of starch grain analysis.”

“Ultimately,” they conclude, “the identification of potato as part of the common diet at a Late Moche site alters our understanding of Moche culinary tradition. Potato has been understood as a highland food with some presence on the coast, but mostly as a novelty food for irregular consumption by elites.” The new evidence that Duke and colleagues have produced from Wasi Huachuma “indicates that potato was consumed regularly and across socioeconomic status lines.”

In short, archaeologists can now add potatoes to the list of dietary staples of this ancient Moche society, along with maize and beans. Given the importance of potato as an inexpensive, fiber-dense food for the rise of the later Inca Empire and for the much later growth of 19th century Europe, work done by archaeologists such as Duke, Vásquez-Sanchez, and Rosales-Tham is crucial for our understanding of the development and collapse of civilizations.

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2 examples of potato-shaped ceramics from the Moche culture of Peru. L: Anthropomorphic potato vessel from 400 ADVERTISEMENT in the Larco Museum, Peru. R: Potato shaped vessel from the Larco Museum, Peru. L: Larco Museum/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY SA 3.0. R: Pattych/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY SA 3.0

We might consider potatoes as the most standard of foods, provided their contemporary universality and low expense, however in the Moche culture in ancient Peru, archaeologists had actually presumed they were extremely charged signs of the elite since they were discovered just in artifacts. New research study, nevertheless, has actually revealed that our understanding of New World potato usage is prejudiced by the reality the starchy veggie is almost constantly consumed in its whole.(************ )(************** )In an upcoming short article in the Journal of Archaeological Science, scientists Person Duke of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Victor Vásquez-Sanchez and Teresa Rosales-Tham of Arqueobios in Peru describe their technique of starch grain analysis from ceramic and stone artifacts to examine using potatoes in the Moche diet plan.

Puno, Peru: Picture of a girl sitting amongst potatoes at her stall.

Their historical examination concentrated on the website of Wasi Huachuma, situated in the lower Jequetepeque valley of Peru, dating to 600-850 ADVERTISEMENT or the later years of the Moche culture. This website included a platform mound, associated out structures, burials, and a big house. The Moche civilization is popular for enormous routine structures like the pyramidal Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna, in addition to for their thoroughly differed ceramic custom that consists of representations of sex acts. Some Moche spiritual practices even included routine human sacrifice.

Provided the abundant history of outstanding product culture, less research study has actually been focused over the last century of historical examination of the Moche into domestic contexts, including what food individuals were consuming. However a current turn in anthropological archaeology far from elite-only contexts to the remains of typical individuals has actually considerably enhanced the prehistory of cultures all over the world.

(************** )At Wasi Huachuma, a variety of artifacts associated with food processing were found, such as grinding stones, cutters, scrapers, ceramic graters, and the remains of food products themselves. Protected at the website were a variety of animal bones, in addition to maize kernels, squash seeds, beans, and chili peppers. These macrobotanical remains were discovered through sorting or drifting of the dirt produced throughout historical excavation. However a macrobotanical method misses out on any food product that is totally taken in, like the potato.

(********* )Potato plantation in Cusco, Peru

(************** )Potatoes were understood to be present in the Moche culture, however formerly archaeologists just understood them from artifacts such as bottles formed like potatoes, lots of with human type. While the potato was very first domesticated in southern Peru about 10,000 years earlier, the historical proof for potato production is slim to none. In between the absence of potato stays and their representation in routine design ceramics, lots of have actually presumed that potatoes were mostly an elite food amongst the northern Moche.

To evaluate this presumption, Duke and his associates took samples from a grinding stone and from several ceramic sherds found at Wasi Huachuma to try to find microbotanical remains of potatoes. These residue samples were then analyzed under a microscopic lense, comparing the qualities of the botanical remains with recognized recommendation samples.

Duke and associates found that all ceramics that they checked included potato starch, and 2 of the samples likewise yielded proof of maize. What this indicates for the Moche diet plan, Duke informs me, is that potatoes “were boiled in a stew on the coast of Peru, although this does not indicate they weren’t consumed in other methods. Roasting by putting things straight on cinders or stones was an extremely typical cooking technique too; this would be extremely difficult to record archaeologically, as it would leave no residues on pots and the whole potato would likely have actually been taken in.”

(******** )

A close up of a plate of Peruvian ceviche with Spanish onions, corn and sweet potato.

Potatoes figure plainly in modern Peruvian food, Duke states, as a side to ceviche, antichucos, papas a la huancaina, and a variety of other meals, and he sees a custom of this going back centuries. “ The Moche were not simply consuming maize, beans and squash– and manioc and chili peppers– with their seafood and fish,” he informs me, “however likewise potato, and most likely a great deal of it.”

While the yellow potato is the most regularly consumed today in Peru, Duke believes a variety of potato varietals might have been consumed in the past. ” There are actually numerous ranges of potatoes recorded in the Andes, with several colors and shapes,” he informs me. “However it is extremely hard to see these ranges in the historical record, particularly when dealing exclusively with starch grains.”

The only other example of potato recuperated from a Moche context, Duke and his associates conclude in their short article, were starch grains discovered in the oral plaque from a burial at another website called Huaca Cao Viejo. However these archaeologists think that, in basic, “the scarceness of direct, physical proof for potato from more Moche contexts is because of the over-reliance on macrobotanical analyses and the under-use of starch grain analysis.”

” Eventually,” they conclude, “the recognition of potato as part of the typical diet plan at a Late Moche website modifies our understanding of Moche cooking custom. Potato has actually been comprehended as a highland food with some existence on the coast, however primarily as a novelty food for irregular usage by elites.” The brand-new proof that Duke and associates have actually produced from Wasi Huachuma “shows that potato was taken in frequently and throughout socioeconomic status lines.”

Simply put, archaeologists can now include potatoes to the list of dietary staples of this ancient Moche society, together with maize and beans. Provided the significance of potato as a low-cost, fiber-dense food for the increase of the later Inca Empire and for the much later development of 19 th century Europe, work done by archaeologists such as Duke, Vásquez-Sanchez, and Rosales-Tham is important for our understanding of the advancement and collapse of civilizations.

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294760171″ >

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2 examples of potato-shaped ceramics from the Moche culture of Peru. L: Anthropomorphic potato vessel from 400 ADVERTISEMENT in the Larco Museum, Peru. R: Potato shaped vessel from the Larco Museum, Peru. L: Larco Museum/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY SA 3.0. R: Pattych/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY SA 3.0

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We might consider potatoes as the most standard of foods, provided their contemporary universality and low expense, however in the Moche culture in ancient Peru, archaeologists had actually presumed they were extremely charged signs of the elite since they were discovered just in artifacts. New research study, nevertheless, has actually revealed that our understanding of New World potato usage is prejudiced by the reality the starchy veggie is almost constantly consumed in its whole.

In an upcoming short article in the Journal of Archaeological Science , scientists Person Duke of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Victor Vásquez-Sanchez and Teresa Rosales-Tham of Arqueobios in Peru describe their technique of starch grain analysis from ceramic and stone artifacts to examine using potatoes in the Moche diet plan.

.

.

Puno, Peru: Picture of a girl sitting amongst potatoes at her stall.

.

.

Their historical examination concentrated on the website of Wasi Huachuma, situated in the lower Jequetepeque valley of Peru, dating to 600 – 850 ADVERTISEMENT or the later years of the Moche culture. This website included a platform mound, associated out structures, burials, and a big house. The Moche civilization is popular for enormous routine structures like the pyramidal Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna, in addition to for their thoroughly differed ceramic custom that consists of representations of sex acts. Some Moche spiritual practices even included routine human sacrifice.

Provided the abundant history of outstanding product culture, less research study has actually been focused over the last century of historical examination of the Moche into domestic contexts, including what food individuals were consuming. However a current turn in anthropological archaeology far from elite-only contexts to the remains of typical individuals has actually considerably enhanced the prehistory of cultures all over the world.

At Wasi Huachuma, a variety of artifacts associated with food processing were found, such as grinding stones, cutters, scrapers, ceramic graters, and the remains of food products themselves. Protected at the website were a variety of animal bones, in addition to maize kernels, squash seeds, beans, and chili peppers. These macrobotanical remains were discovered through sorting or drifting of the dirt produced throughout historical excavation. However a macrobotanical method misses out on any food product that is totally taken in, like the potato.

.

.

Potato plantation in Cusco, Peru

.

.

Potatoes were understood to be present in the Moche culture, however formerly archaeologists just understood them from artifacts such as bottles formed like potatoes, lots of with human type. While the potato was very first domesticated in southern Peru about 10, 000 years earlier, the historical proof for potato production is slim to none. In between the absence of potato stays and their representation in routine design ceramics, lots of have actually presumed that potatoes were mostly an elite food amongst the northern Moche.

To evaluate this presumption, Duke and his associates took samples from a grinding stone and from several ceramic sherds found at Wasi Huachuma to try to find microbotanical remains of potatoes. These residue samples were then analyzed under a microscopic lense, comparing the qualities of the botanical remains with recognized recommendation samples.

Duke and associates found that all ceramics that they checked included potato starch, and 2 of the samples likewise yielded proof of maize. What this indicates for the Moche diet plan, Duke informs me, is that potatoes “were boiled in a stew on the coast of Peru, although this does not indicate they weren’t consumed in other methods. Roasting by putting things straight on cinders or stones was an extremely typical cooking technique too; this would be extremely difficult to record archaeologically, as it would leave no residues on pots and the whole potato would likely have actually been taken in.”

.

.

A close up of a plate of Peruvian ceviche with Spanish onions, corn and sweet potato.

.

.

Potatoes figure plainly in modern Peruvian food, Duke states, as a side to ceviche, antichucos, papas a la huancaina, and a variety of other meals, and he sees a custom of this going back centuries.” The Moche were not simply consuming maize, beans and squash– and manioc and chili peppers– with their seafood and fish,” he informs me, “however likewise potato, and most likely a great deal of it.”

While the yellow potato is the most regularly consumed today in Peru, Duke believes a variety of potato varietals might have been consumed in the past. “There are actually numerous ranges of potatoes recorded in the Andes, with several colors and shapes,” he informs me. “However it is extremely hard to see these ranges in the historical record, particularly when dealing exclusively with starch grains.”

The only other example of potato recuperated from a Moche context, Duke and his associates conclude in their short article, were starch grains discovered in the oral plaque from a burial at another website called Huaca Cao Viejo. However these archaeologists think that, in basic, “the scarceness of direct, physical proof for potato from more Moche contexts is because of the over-reliance on macrobotanical analyses and the under-use of starch grain analysis.”

“Eventually,” they conclude, “the recognition of potato as part of the typical diet plan at a Late Moche website modifies our understanding of Moche cooking custom. Potato has actually been comprehended as a highland food with some existence on the coast, however primarily as a novelty food for irregular usage by elites.” The brand-new proof that Duke and associates have actually produced from Wasi Huachuma “shows that potato was taken in frequently and throughout socioeconomic status lines.”

Simply put, archaeologists can now include potatoes to the list of dietary staples of this ancient Moche society, together with maize and beans. Provided the significance of potato as a low-cost, fiber-dense food for the increase of the later Inca Empire and for the much later development of 19 th century Europe, work done by archaeologists such as Duke, Vásquez-Sanchez, and Rosales-Tham is important for our understanding of the advancement and collapse of civilizations.

.