Archaeologists recently dug up thousands of blackened potatoes at a site dating back more than 3 millennia on Canada’s Pacific coast. The prehistoric garden which bore the uncovered potatoes is the first proof researchers have that North American natives tended gardens at least 3,800 years ago.
The ancient site was uncovered during roadwork near the Fraser River in British Columbia by archaeologists led by Tanja Hoffmann of the Katzie Development Limited Partnership and Simon Fraser University
The garden, unearthed in an ecologically rich wetland on the ancestral lands of the Katzie tribe, is the first direct evidence of wetland plant cultivation in the prehistoric Pacific Northwest, according to a study published in the Science Advances journal.
The study discloses that the site showed signs of sophisticated engineering techniques used by farmers to control the flow of water. A rock pavement that “formed a boundary for the cultivation” of the potatoes and held them in their growing positions, was installed by the farmers.
This method allowed a more efficient growth of the wild wapato tubers, also known as Indian potatoes. The researchers also discovered around 150 fire-hardened tool fragments made of wood which they believe to be the tips of “digging sticks.”
These potatoes, which are today found in wetlands across southern Canada and the United States, had long been important to the indigenous people of the region.
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