They were humble farmers who grew corn and dwelt in subterranean pit houses. But the people who lived 1200 years ago in a Utah village known as Site 13, near Canyonlands National Park in Utah, seem to have had at least one indulgence: chocolate. Researchers report that half a dozen bowls excavated from the area contain traces of chocolate, the earliest known in North America. The finding implies that by the end of the 8th century C.E., cacao beans, which grow only in the tropics, were being imported to Utah from orchards thousands of kilometers away.
The discovery could force archaeologists to rethink the widely held view that the early people of the northern Southwest, who would go on to build enormous masonry “great houses” at New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and create fine pottery, had little interaction with their neighbors in Mesoamerica. Other scientists are intrigued by the new claim, but also skeptical. Read more.
London, August 3 (ANI): Archaeologists say they have found traces of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan peninsula, the first time they have found ancient chocolate residue on a plate rather than a cup, suggesting it may have been used as a condiment or sauce with solid food.
The discovery announced this week by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History expands the envelope of how chocolate may have been used in ancient Mexico.
It would also suggest that there may be ancient roots for traditional dishes eaten in today’s Mexico, such as mole, the chocolate-based sauce often served with meats.
“This indicates that the pre-Hispanic Maya may have eaten foods with cacao sauce, similar to mole,” the anthropology institute said.
The traces of chemical substances considered “markers” for chocolate were found on fragments of plates uncovered at the Paso del Macho archaeological site in Yucatan in 2001. Read more.
Roughly 1,000 years ago, residents of pueblos in the American southwest appear to have had an appetite for imported chocolate, according to new research. The finding, based on chemical traces found in clay pots, is evidence of a strong connection between the southwestern puebloans and the ancient civilizations of Mexico and Central America.
This early version of chocolate was already known to be well-established thousands of miles to the south of what is now the southwestern United States. The Mayans, Aztecs and other ancient people from Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America) used beans from the native cacao plant to make a ceremonial drink, which they served frothy.
Until now, however, the evidence of cacao in the American southwest was limited. And since cacao does not grow outside the tropics, the discovery of plentiful traces of it far to the north indicates there was extensive trade between these distant societies, according to the researchers led by Dorothy Washburn, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
“In order for so much to be present in the sample — two-thirds of 75 pots we looked at had cacao in them — there must have been a much greater degree of interaction between these areas,” Washburn said. “People move great distances if they wanted something badly enough.” Read more.
Talk about a sweet deal—prehistoric peoples of Mesoamerica may have traded chocolate for gems from the U.S. Southwest, a new study suggests.
Traces of a chemical found in cacao—the main ingredient in chocolate—were found in several drinking vessels from various sites in Pueblo Bonito, a complex of sandstone “great houses” in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Ancestral Puebloan peoples built the complex, the epicenter of the ancient Chaco culture, in stages between A.D. 850 and 1150.
But cacao, a tropical fruit that grows in Central and South America, was cultivated in prehistoric times only in Mesoamerica, a region that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica (see map).
The findings suggest the New Mexico complex also served as a trading hub for Mesoamericans and Puebloans between the 11th and 14th centuries—and that the two groups had a “much tighter connection” than previously thought, said study leader Dorothy Washburn. Read more.
Chocolate may have provided sweet impetus for extensive trade between ancient northern and southern societies in the Americas. Pueblo people living in what’s now the U.S. Southwest drank a cacao-based beverage that was imported from Mesoamerican cultures in southern Mexico or Central America, a new chemical analysis of Pueblo vessels finds. Read more.