Corn in Ancient South American Civilisations


Scientists have found out that ancient civilizations in the highlands of Peru relied on corn as an important food crop. They studied old fossils and stone tools to find out that people actually grew corn a few thousand years ago. This proves that civilizations in the Andes, like many others around the world, were based on farming.

The corn DNA that was found in archaeological sites in the Andes does not compare with corn samples of today. It was found together with a number of old tools that go back a few thousand years.


Scientists first thought that early civilizations of the Andes got their food from sea animals. The new discoveries of corn, beans and sweet potatoes show that farming was their main source of food.



Related Topics



  • ancient = old
  • based on = here: farming was their main activity
  • bean = green vegetable from a climbing plant that is cooked as food
  • discovery = to find something for the first time
  • DNA = material that carries the genetic information in the cells of the body
  • does not compare = is not the same as
  • food crop = plant that you grow and use as food
  • fossil = animal or plant that existed thousands or millions of years ago  and whose shape has been preserved in rock
  • go back = are as old as
  • rely = need, depend on
  • sample = example; test material
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a laboratory
  • source = supply
  • sweet potatoes = type of potato that is grown in tropical and subtropical regions