Phytolith evidence for the early presence of maize in southern quebec

Christian Gates St-Pierre, Robert G. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


It has long been believed that maize (Zea mays spp. mays) was introduced in Quebec at around A.D. 1000, at the very beginning of the Late Woodland period. The identification and dating of maize phytoliths extracted from the carbonized encrustations on the interior stufaces of Native American ceramic vessels from three sites located in the St. Lawrence River valley, namely the Hector-Trudel, Station-4, and Place-Royale sites, indicate that this cultigen was rather introduced in that area during the Early Middle Woodland period, ca. 400 to 200 B.C. These sites provide the northernmost and possibly the oldest evidence of maize consumption in northeastern North America. More samples of maize phytoliths front the same two sites were dated to the late Middle Woodland period, between A.D. 600 and 800, suggesting an increase in the ubiquity and importance of this new crop in the subsistence strategies. Moreover, the identification of an unknown variety of maize points toward the possibility that a new local variety of maize appeared during the process. This process might have been accompanied by a more intensive and complementary collecting of wild rice. Finally, the results support the hypothesis of an in situ origin of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-415
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • consumption
  • lakes region
  • new-york
  • north-america
  • ontario
  • paleodiet
  • residues
  • stable-isotope
  • zea-mays


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