Crops Before Corn: An Investigation of Eastern Agricultural Complex Plants at the Tom Jones Site, Arkansas


Presented by Rosie Blewitt

Before corn, beans, and squash became the cornerstones of farming in the Eastern Woodlands, Native Americans relied on a different group of crops. The so-called “Eastern Agricultural Complex” consisted of several weedy plants, including sunflowers and a relative of the quinoa plant, that were domesticated and grown in the United States for thousands of years. Following the introduction of corn to the Eastern Woodlands these plants mostly disappeared from Native diets, and it has only been over the past few decades that archaeologists have rediscovered the existence of these important ancient crops. Through discussion of the Tom Jones site, a protohistoric Caddo Indian mound site in Arkansas, we can learn about these lost crops and explore their place in prehistoric foodways.