The Paleobiolinguistics of the Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)

  • Cecil H. Brown Northern Illinois University, 1700 Scenic Highway, #601, Pensacola, FL, 32503-6634
  • Charles R. Clement Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, AM
  • Patience Epps University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
  • Eike Luedeling World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi
  • Søren Wichmann Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Keywords: Archaeobotany, crop origins, historical linguistics, Native Americans, paleobiolinguistics, plant domestication, plant genetics


Paleobiolinguistics is used to determine when and where the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) developed significance for prehistoric groups of Native America. Dates and locations of proto-languages for which common bean terms reconstruct generally accord with crop-origin and dispersal information from plant genetics and archaeobotany. Paleobiolinguistic and other lines of evidence indicate that human interest in the common bean became significant primarily with the widespread development of a village‐farming way of life in the New World rather than earlier when squash and maize and a few other crops became important.

Author Biographies

Cecil H. Brown, Northern Illinois University, 1700 Scenic Highway, #601, Pensacola, FL, 32503-6634

Cecil H. Brown is a linguistic anthropologist with interests in ethnobiology, historical linguistics, and Native American languages.

Charles R. Clement, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, AM

Charles R. Clement is a geneticist studying the origin and domestication of native Amazonian crops, and the ethnobotany associated with anthropogenic soils and other domesticated landscapes.

Patience Epps, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Patience Epps is a linguist whose work investigates lowland South American languages from historical, typological, and descriptive perspectives.

Eike Luedeling, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi

Eike Luedeling is an agricultural scientist mainly concerned with projection of climate change impacts on agricultural and natural ecosystems and with the development of appropriate adaptation strategies.

Søren Wichmann, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

Søren Wichmann specializes in quantitative methods in historical linguistics and Mesoamerican languages. He is General Editor of the journal Language Dynamics and Change.


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How to Cite
Brown, C. H., Clement, C. R., Epps, P., Luedeling, E., & Wichmann, S. (2014). The Paleobiolinguistics of the Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Ethnobiology Letters, 5, 104-115.
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