This type of research illustrates the many hidden connections in history that nevertheless shape us.

Repeating Islands

maps

This report on the pre-Columbian travels of the sweet potato appeared in NPR. See link to the original report below.

When it comes to spreading food around the world, Christopher Columbus and his European compatriots get most of the credit.

Yes, they introduced some quintessential ingredients into European and Asian cuisine. Who could imagine Italian food without the tomato? Or Indian and Chinese dishes without the spicy kick of chili peppers?

But anthropologists think that a few foods made the 5,000-mile trek across the Pacific Ocean long before Columbus landed in the New World. And their proof is in the potato — the sweet potato.

By analyzing the DNA of 1,245 sweet potato varieties from Asia and the Americas, researchers have found a genetic smoking gun that proves the root vegetable made it all the way to Polynesia from the Andes — nearly 400 years before Inca gold was a…

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About Dennis R. Hidalgo
I am a historian of the Atlantic World. I am passionate about people, those alive in the present and those who left little trace of their past.

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