Maize is known to have originated in Mesoamerica from which it spread north and south, adapting to many varied climatic and environmental conditions. This study details the origin of the species Zea mays L. The teosinte hypothesis and the concepts of seasonality and scheduling are employed to discuss the domestication of maize by means of human selection. This information is used to highlight the basic circumstances necessary for maize agriculture to be adopted by a human population. Furthermore, climate is examined through the minimum and ideal environmental conditions needed for the successful growth of maize. Environmental cues play a profound role in the phenotypic characteristics a species exhibits; therefore Holocene climactic events are examined in areas with extensive evidence of maize domestication. The minimum requirements for maize growth are compared against the actual conditions during periods of significant climatic change (Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, etc.). Through comparing the ideal versus realized conditions over time, a model for the diffusion of maize from Mesoamerica into North America, with a particular focus on the Southwest and Ohio Valley, is developed.


Kardulias, P. Nicholas




History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Theory and Criticism


Maize, domestication, climate

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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