Amazonia offers some striking contrasts to better-known regions of the world, notably the Middle East, in which plants were domesticated. These contrasts are pertinent to attempts to formulate general principles of evolution under domestication, particularly now that some of these are being critically reexamined. Topics covered in this paper include a generally applicable definition of plant domestication; how domestication may be recognised archaeobotanically; the relative roles of conscious and unconscious human selection; when and how rapidly domestication occurred; whether the same crop was domesticated more than once; and where a crop was domesticated. The archaeobotanical record for Amazonia and the number of Amazonian crops in which domestication has been critically studied are limited, so detailed comparison with other regions is not yet possible. However, new techniques in archaeology and molecular genetics offer promise that questions that can at present only be posed may become answerable in the not-too-distant future.

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