Cotton in Mexico and Pacific coast
We were over at Centro de Salud in Jaluco for one of the kids. While there Lori noticed what looked a cotton plant except this was 10 feet tall. Having never seen a cotton plant except driving by cotton fields in the south I had my doubts. When I got home I checked the Internet and sure enough, it was. I cut and pasted a few bits of info I found on Cotton, Mexico and it’s history. Always something interesting around the corner.
[Comment from reader] – A friend who is 3rd generation “Melaque” born and raised told us that the entire area was once home to cotton fields. The crop was profitable but risky (depending on weather, etc). That is why eventually the locals diversified into current crops which were not as profitable but far more reliable!
The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico
The oldest evidence of Gossypium hirsutum in Mesoamerica comes from the Tehuacan valley and has been dated between 3400 and 2300 BC. In different caves of the area, archaeologists affiliated to the project of Richard MacNeish found remains of fully domesticated examples of this cotton. The Tehuacán Valley lies in southern Mexico in the state of Puebla near the region where maize (corn) was first domesticated 7,000 years ago.
Recent studies have allowed the comparison of bolls and cotton seeds from excavation in Guila Naquitz Cave, Oaxaca, with living examples of wild and cultivated G. hirsutum punctatum, showing that they might come from the same species, originally domesticated in the Yucatan Peninsula.
In different eras and among different Mesoamerican cultures, cotton was a highly demanded good and a precious exchange item. Maya and Aztec merchants traded cotton with other luxury items, and nobles adorned themselves with preciously woven and colored mantles.