"Smithsonian researchers and colleagues report that across the Americas, chili peppers (Capsicum species) were cultivated and traded as early as 6,000 years ago—predating the invention of pottery in some areas of the Americas." Archaeologists could use the spread of chilis to retrace trade routes, migration paths, and chart the growth of commerce in Sounth America. They will strive to answer the question, "Is the best way to civilization though men's stomachs?"
"Whether this is migration of people or early trade is one of the fascinating questions," said [co-author Deborah Pearsall, an anthropology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia], who calls these early farmers pretty sophisticated. "They were not at the edge of starvation. … People were growing all kinds of things and not just focusing on staples."