Plant Domestication and Dispersal

August 25th, 2019

How did the agricultural practices of prehistoric civilizations contribute to the environmental conditions of the Anthropocene?


Symposium: Presentation

The monocrops of contemporary industrial corn production—a key industry in the Upper Mississippi region—present a vivid example of anthropogenically transformed landscapes. However, the cultivation of corn, or “maize,” dates far back in human history. Innovations in agriculture, and the demographic shifts in human populations that go along with them, have often times ushered in major societal changes which raises the question about the prehistoric societal implications of agricultural intensification. Robert Spengler addresses this issue as he examines the importance of maize cultivation to the early development of political centers and complex social structures in North America, as present in Cahokia.