Fully podded corn in the Old Southwest.


The Museum's 1950 Southwest Archeological Expedition excavated Tularosa Cave, a dry cave on the upper Gila River watershed in New Mexico. Of the large assortment of plant remains unearthed, the most interesting and abundant is the corn. There are more than 30,000 cobs, cob fragments, many ears with grains, tassels, and plant fragments. In the lawest levels some of the ears are as fully podded as some of the Tu ears grown today, while the majority are the less conspicuously podded weak tunicate forms already described by Mangelsdorf from another New Mexico Cave. It is believed that the lowest levels of Tularosa Cave are more than 4,000 years old for the artifacts associated with these levels are similar to those found in a nearby site which has been dated by the Carbon 14 method as about 4,500 years old. Carbon 14 tests are being run on the Tularosa Cave material.


This is the second record of ancient fully podded corn in the Southwest. The first, a solitary ear from northern Arizona, is of little significance for there is little information on the associated corn or the level at which the ear was discovered.


Besides corn, there are many squash stems (pepo), kidney beans, Cucurbita foetidissima fruits, grasses and parts of the local wild plants which the cave dwellers used. Since the cave was occupied until about 1200 A.D., this collection will give a relatively complete history of corn for more than 3200 years.


Hugh C. Cutler