Who Used Corn in Ancient Times?

Corn is a staple food crop that has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America, where it has been an important part of the local diet since ancient times.

But who used corn in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

Early Domestication of Corn

Corn, also known as maize, was first domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mexico around 10,000 years ago. These early farmers selectively bred wild grasses to create the tall, sturdy plants we recognize as corn today. Over time, different varieties of corn were developed for different climates and growing conditions.

The Mayans and Aztecs

The Mayans and Aztecs were two of the most advanced civilizations in pre-Columbian America. They relied heavily on corn as a staple food source, using it to make a variety of dishes such as tortillas, tamales, and pozole (a type of soup). Corn was also used to make chicha, a fermented beverage that was consumed during religious ceremonies.

The Inca Empire

In South America, the Inca Empire (which spanned modern-day Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile) also relied on corn as a dietary staple. The Incas grew several varieties of corn, including the purple maiz morado which was used to make chicha.

Native American Tribes

When European settlers arrived in North America in the 16th century, they encountered Native American tribes who had been cultivating corn for centuries. Tribes such as the Cherokee, Hopi, and Iroquois used corn in their traditional diets and incorporated it into their cultural practices.

The Importance of Corn

Corn played a vital role in the ancient world because it provided sustenance for millions of people across multiple continents. It was easy to grow, could be stored for long periods of time, and provided a range of essential nutrients. In addition to being a dietary staple, corn was also used for medicinal purposes and in religious ceremonies.


In conclusion, corn has been an important part of human civilization for thousands of years. From its origins in Mexico and Central America, to its widespread cultivation in North and South America, corn has played a significant role in the diets and cultures of countless societies. Today, it remains a vital crop that feeds millions of people around the world.