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Ancient Andean Maize Makers: Finds push back farming, trade in highland Peru

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11:14am, March 1, 2006

Nearly 4,000 years ago, large societies emerged in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru that would culminate approximately 3,000 years later in the rise of the Inca civilization. Now, scientists have the first evidence that these Inca predecessors cultivated maize and imported plant foods from lowland tropical forests located 180 miles to the east.

Researchers have long theorized that ancient Andean civilizations exchanged goods with lowland sites. "Our results provide the earliest direct evidence of an important trade connection between highland and lowland sites in southern Peru," says archaeologist Linda Perry of the Smithsonian Institution's Archaeobiology Laboratory in Suitland, Md.

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