Food around 1,000 AD



Southwest Asia



The relevant chemicals associated with the ingestion and use of the coca plant have been found in numerous Egyptian mummies of the New Kingdom that date from approximately 1070 BCE to 395 ce. (The Lost History of Ancient America)

Indus Valley





There is no evidence to support the claim that either Columbus or any other European was the first to introduce maize into the Old World. Bonafous (1836) is the first person that I know of to claim that the Arabs or Saracens introduced maize into Spain: '...and maize was said by Santa Rosa da Viterbo to have been brought by the Arabs into Spain in the thirteenth century.' (The God-Kings & the Titans)

South America

Tiwanaku is one of the first and largest "states" to be based in large part on potatoes, which were intensively cultivated with other crops on raised fields reclaimed from the lake marshes. The people of Tiwanaku also herded vast numbers of llamas…(Patterns in Prehistory)

The economic basis of the Inka Empire was a highly integrated system of fishing, herding, and farming. Rivers were channeled through stone-lined canals, while lowland irrigation systems, which had existed for thousands of years, were extended and brought under centralized authority. Llamas and alpacas were raised for wool, while dogs, muscovy ducks, and guinea pigs provided most of the meat. But the staple foods were maize, beans, potatoes, quinoa, oca, and peppers. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The food storage methods used by the Inka were very important in establishing imperial reserves. Potatoes were alternately dried and frozen to produce a black, pulpy product called chuno, meat was turned into jerky, and grain was brewed into chica, a nutritious beer. The Inka and their immediate predecessors converted maize into beer as a prestige item and associated it with imperial power and the theology of the Inka state. People were brought together in communal feasts in which beer was consumed, and at these feasts the elites could reinforce their position: by providing beer in this context they could underscore the indebtedness of the peasantry to them and put the labor that the peasantry did for the elites in the context of the national religion and the highly stratified class system. (Patterns in Prehistory)

While giving rise to class divisions for the first time, farming may also have exacerbated sexual inequality already in existence. With the advent of agriculture, women often became beasts of burden, were drained by more frequent pregnancies, and thus suffered poorer health. For example, among the Chilean mummies from 1000 AD, women exceeded men in osteoarthritis and in bone lesions from infectious disease. (The Third Chimpanzee)

Many of the natural mummies found in Peru have been tested and demonstrate their long use of the native tobacco and coca plant leaves. In the process of these tests, the mummies were also tested for THC, the active ingredient in Cannabis sativa, as well as the residue of presumed nicotine/coca chemicals. In many of the mummies—60 of the 70 studied—one or more of these chemical traces were discovered. The chemicals were discovered inside the hair, teeth, and tissues of the mummies. In 20 of the mummies, researchers discovered the chemicals to which THC breaks down upon ingestion. This indicates that the people who were later mummified were using the Middle Eastern marijuana prior to their deaths. These mummies have been accurately dated to between 115 CE and 1500 ce, in Peru. (The Lost History of Ancient America)


It is estimated that between one and two million people lived in the Valley of Mexico in late Aztec times. The lake provided great and reliable quantities of food in the form of fish, waterfowl, and salamanders. In the southern areas of the valley's lake system, maize, beans, squash, tomatoes, and other crops were grown on chinampas, long rectangular plots of ground created out of the lake bed by piling up layers of aquatic weeds, mud, human feces, garbage, and other materials. According to ancient documents, the Aztecs initially made the chinampas by braiding grass and reeds into thick mats that could float, and thus they were able to float entire fields from one place to another--an agricultural system unparalleled in the ancient world. As many as four crops per year can be grown on these exceptionally fertile plots of land. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The diet of the Aztecs centered on maize, beans, squash, and tomatoes, although the wealthier people could eat various fruits, nuts, meats, and other exotic foods. The relatively unvaried diet was enlivened with peyote and other natural hallucinogens, and by tobacco and pulque, a cactus-derived alcoholic drink with impressive powers to revive the weary. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Around the year 590 AD, at the site they call Ceren in present-day El Salvador, a volcano erupted that provided remains of a village so well preserved that it has been stamped with the inevitable sobriquet of Central American Pompeii. At Ceren, specialists in the uses of plants by early people have uncovered stores of ceramic vessels filled with beans, squash, cacao and other plant foods dried but still recognizable after all these centuries. …the abundance of finely painted ceramics and the evidence of trade goods showed this to be a prosperous community of farmers. In one of the more humble households, archaeologists counted more than 70 ceramic vessels. "It's surprising, but also sad," Dr. Sheets said in an interview. "The standard of living fourteen hundred years ago was higher than it is now among the peasants of El Salvador." Ceren had developed a diverse agriculture of orchards, household gardens and large cornfields. At least at this time of year, they had a variety of foods to eat: corn, several kinds of beans, squash, chili peppers, avocados, nuts, cherries and other fruits. They drink cacao, the favorite beverage of the Maya. They got their animal proteins from deer, ducks, dogs and freshwater mollusks. (101)

In Aztec times, the beans of the cacao were used as a medium of exchange and ground to produce the sacred drink, chocolatl. (Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica)

North America

Analysis of the animal and plant remains from sites dated between 9,000 and 2,500 years ago reveals an extremely diverse diet. Rabbits, rats, and squirrels were trapped--probably with twined nets--and bison, antelopes, and mountain sheep were also occasionally taken. At sites near bodies of water, grebes, pelicans, herons, ducks,swans, geese, and even hawks and ravens appear to have been eaten. The number of grinding stones and digging sticks found in Desert West sites suggests that, as with most hunters and gatherers, much of the diet was supplied by plant foods. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The generalized hunting-and-gathering way of life persisted in the Desert West into the present century, except in a few favored areas where, beginning about 2,000 years ago a horticultural way of life, based on domesticated maize, beans, and squash was possible. (Patterns in Prehistory)

One of the most interesting aspects of the Hohokam is their agricultural system. Beginning at about 300 BC, the Hohokam channeled water from the Salt and Gila rivers to irrigate their gardens of maize and other crops. Modern buildings have erased much of the Hohokam irrigation system, but two canals near Phoenix were over sixteen kilometers long, several meters wide, and about sixty centimeters deep when first constructed. Tightly woven grass mats were probably used as gates to open and close canal segments, and earthen dams on the rivers in some places diverted water through canals for more than fifty kilometers across the desert floor, with many small branches serving individual fields. (Patterns in Prehistory)

These early Anasazi did not use pottery and, although they ate maize, beans, and squash, they invested little labor in cultivating these crops, relying instead on wild foods, such as roots, bulbs, grass seeds, nuts, acorns, berries, cactus fruits, sunflowers, deer, rabbits, antelopes, and wild sheep. (Patterns in Prehistory)


In archaeological excavations on the island of Timor, a researcher has discovered evidence of the corn stalk and seeds dating from 1000 ce. the same set of caves where annona and peanut were also discovered, peanut was from a slightly earlier levels (800 CE) in the caves. (The Lost History of Ancient America)

The custard apple (Annona squamosal) is another plant that originated in the Americas and was transferred across the ocean as far as India and Turkey. Seeds of the Annona have been found in caves on the island Timor and radiocarbon dated to between 800 and 1000 CE, when these caves ceased to be inhabited by human populations. (The Lost History of Ancient America)

... peanut is definitely of American origin, as shown in very early archeological data from Peru and other South American sites. The peanuts in Timor were left prior to 800–1000 CE, when the caves became unoccupied. (The Lost History of Ancient America)