Evidence indicates manioc was a major Maya crop

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Corn was the royalty of Maya food crops, celebrated in religion and cosmology, but archaeologists have long suspected that a different crop, the lowly manioc plant, was the mainstay of Maya life, providing the basic sustenance that allowed their civilization to flourish in densely populated cities.

Now, Colorado researchers have provided the first direct evidence that manioc was indeed intensively cultivated by the Maya -- in quantities that would allow its use for many purposes.

Manioc tubers, also known as cassava, can grow to as much as 3 feet long and as thick as a man's arm. They produce the highest food energy yield of any cultivated crop, about eight to 10 times as much as corn. They can also be grown in infertile soils and require little or no irrigation.

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