Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 24 (2009). Copyright © Amanda J. Landon; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


The avocado (persea americana) is grown all over the modern world in tropical and subtropical climates for food and cosmetics (Humani 1987). In antiquity, the avocado was important to the Ancient Maya not only for food but also as a part of their mythology. Avocados were grown in sacred gardens, and important ancestors were thought to become reborn through fruit trees, including the avocado. Here, I examine the cultural context of the avocado and the issues related to understanding the domestication of the avocado and other tropical fruit trees. I discuss archaeological and molecular evidence, and offer direction for future research.

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