Can Species of Fritillaria and Allium Serve as Guideposts to Human Migration?
21 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 3, 2010
Worldwide, the genus Fritillaria grows only between latitudes 32° and 62°N. It appears to have originated in eastern Asia, and migrated through China, Japan, the Kuril Islands, and Kamchatka, to the Pacific Northwest, thence inland to Nebraska and south to San Diego. One species, F. camschatcensis, ranges from extreme southeastern Russia to Oregon. In Eurasia Fritillaria localities are typically along the multiple routes of the ancient “Silk Road.” We propose that the parallels between the modern ranges of Fritillaria and the travel of ancient people are not accidental. Fritillaria and Allium bulbs are prized to this day by the native people of the Pacific Northwest as food, spice, and medicine. The dried bulbs prove ideal for long trips across ice or water. We suggest that these bulbs may have been carried by travelers on ancient routes of travel or migration, and occasionally left behind, either purposefully or accidentally, along the trail or at the campsite. If our hypothesis is correct, the early peopling of the new world came by way of Kamchatka, not by way of the Bering Strait. Some of the migrants, possibly Jomon people, may have come from Japan.
Keywords: allum, Bering Strait, ethnobotany, fritillaria, Kamchatka, migration
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