Maca‘s History is shrouded in mystery. As the glaciers receded and the ground opened up to year round inhabitation, a pastoral tribe called the Pumpush settled on the shores of 12,000 foot high Lake Chinchaycocha, now called Lake Junin, in the Peruvian highlands. They soon began to domesticate plants they found in the region, Maca being the most cold tolerant and adaptable to culture. Astute farming practices and an intimate knowledge of natural genetic selection increase the diversity of Maca cultivars.
Evidenced by Maca found in ancient fire-pits by archaeologists, Maca had evolved from a wild plant into a domesticated staple. Later, Yaro tribes arrived on the plateau bringing the cultivation techniques to even greater perfection. By then, new Maca cultivars of all shapes and colors had been developed and named. Now, with more than 30 distinctive ecotypes, Maca had become one of the most irrepressible super-foods to have arisen from the land of constant frost and wind. As the political landscape of the region changed, controlling the cultivation of the Maca lands became as important to the reign of power as were cattle and the very farmland itself. It’s said that the Inca inherited the fight of Maca culture from the Yaro, but maca’s reputation as an energetic and fertility enhancer far preceded it, increasing its value as an item of commerce and power. Even then, Maca was known to enhance stamina of warriors in battle, and many believe the very reason that the Inca wanted to subdue the Plateau was to gain control of maca’s production. When the Spanish entered the picture in 1533, they soon learned of the virtues of Maca and mentioned it in almost every chronicle of the time. From the Highlands of Peru flowed large quantities of the precious root.
The Spanish fed it to their horses and livestock and shipped tons of it back to the kings of Spain as a payment of tax. The first Spanish baby born in the Highland did not come until a full 50 years after Pizarro’s arrival, and it is speculated that conception was achieved with the aid of the botanical species Lepidium peruvianum, known as maca. Now you know a small portion of Maca’s History.
Chronological Order of Maca’s History
- Primitive varieties of Maca were found in archaeological sites dating back to 1600 B.C.
- Maca Root was domesticated during the pre-Inca Period sometime around 3800 B.C
- The indigenous people used it for centuries to enhance fertility in humans and animals.
- For almost two centuries, Maca was commonly traded for gold and exported to feed the kings of Spain
- When the Spanish entered the picture in 1533 they learned of the virtues of Maca and mentioned it in almost every chronicle of the time.