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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

State of the Art Report on Quinoa Around the World in 2013


This study reports on the current state of knowledge regarding the history of Chenopodium quinoa in four Andean countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru (Figure 1). The cultural environments in which quinoa was domesticated, adopted, exchanged and/or cultivated in ancient times, were reconstructed using archaeological data and, in particular, on the basis of archaeobotanical research by many specialists in these countries, as well as ethnohistorical sources and observations of the cultural continuities in communities that still produce quinoa using traditional methods. The study begins with a review of the domestication of Chenopodium. It has been shown that the morphological features of archaeological seeds are the outcome of human manipulation over at least 3 000 years. This indicates that groups of huntergatherers in the Late Archaic Period (8000–3000 B.C.) in the Andean region subsisted on wild Chenopodium and applied selection, protection, treatment and transplantation processes that induced changes in its structure resulting in the characteristic features of domesticated quinoa. The study then investigates archaeobotanical records from the Late Archaic to the Inca period. It outlines the distinctive morphological attributes in each region, the ecological conditions where quinoa was cultivated, the zones of origin and access routes, the various ways it was used, and quinoa’s role in the sociopolitical processes of the time. Finally, the study draws attention to the benefits (or necessity) of continuing regional research, optimizing methodologies and exchanging information and developments among researchers seeking answers to the many unsolved problems, including the presence of seeds not specifically identified as having traits that could match the early stages of the domestication process.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Website.