Scientists from British Columbia in Canada have unearthed about a hundred potatoes that have turned black from time to time in a prehistoric garden. The ancient vegetable garden was planted about 4000 years ago in a wetland. Excavations show signs that sophisticated engineering techniques were used to irrigate the garden, which were built to manage water flows. This approach made it possible to efficiently grow "Indian potato" tubers.
Archaeologists have discovered an ancient garden during excavations in the east of Vancouver (Canada), near the Fraser River. The territories of these lands have been swampy for many centuries. It was this condition that allowed plants, organic materials (ancient wooden tools) to be perfectly preserved and not decompose over time.
Researchers at Fraser University in Canada, led by Tanya Hoffmann, have found 3,767 specimens of the broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), also referred to as "Indian potatoes." Today, the plant can be found in wetlands throughout Canada and the United States. Although the "Indian potato" was not cultivated, the roots of this plant, the size of a chestnut, played a huge role for the indigenous people.
The prehistoric potatoes found in British Columbia were dark brown in color, and some of the tubers still contained starch.
The ancient vegetable garden was completely covered with stones of approximately the same size, which were located next to each other. This prompted archaeologists to believe that the stones were installed by people. Arrowhead grows deep underground, and the artificial stone cover helped control the depth of root growth and allowed tubers to be found more easily and quickly when harvesting from the soil.
In addition to a swampy piece of land, a dry area where people lived was found at the excavation site. About 150 wooden tools were found here, which may have been used to dig up "Indian potatoes".
Radiocarbon analysis showed that this discovery is about 3800 years old. And it was abandoned by people 3200 years ago. The implication is that this excavation site may be evidence of the cultivation of marsh plants in the ancient Pacific Northwest.
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