Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chocolate Drink Used In Rituals In New Mexico 1,000 Years Ago

Date:
February 5, 2009
Source:
University of New Mexico
Summary:
Inhabitants of Chaco Canyon apparently drank chocolate from cylinders about a thousand years ago. Archaeologists generally agree the vessels were used for some ritual, but there has been great disagreement about the specific use of the vessels. Crown was thinking about how the Maya drank chocolate from ceramic cylinders, and wondered whether the cylinders found at Chaco might have been used in the same way. It was clear that the Maya used the cylinders for chocolate. Experts could read the glyphs on the vessels that made it clear they were chocolate containers.

Inhabitants of Chaco Canyon apparently drank chocolate from cylinders like these about a thousand years ago.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of New Mexico

Inhabitants of Chaco Canyon apparently drank chocolate from cylinders like these about a thousand years ago. That’s the finding in a paper recently published by PNAS, a publication of the National Academy of Science and written by Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Patricia L. Crown and her Collaborator at the Hershey Center of Health and Nutrition W. Jeffrey Hurst.

Crown has long been fascinated by ceramic cylinders excavated at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon excavated in the Hyde Exploring Expedition from 1896-1899 and the National Geographic Society Expedition from 1920 to 1927. Only about 200 of the cylinders exist and most were found in a single room at the site. The cylinders are now housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and at the American Museum of Natural History.

Archaeologists generally agree the vessels were used for some ritual, but there has been great disagreement about the specific use of the vessels. Crown was thinking about how the Maya drank chocolate from ceramic cylinders, and wondered whether the cylinders found at Chaco might have been used in the same way. It was clear that the Maya used the cylinders for chocolate. Experts could read the glyphs on the vessels that made it clear they were chocolate containers.

From 2004-2007 UNM graduate and undergraduate students had excavated the trash middens directly south of Pueblo Bonito and uncovered thousands of pottery fragments that could be used for analysis. Crown selected sherds that were from cylinders or pitchers. She could tell they were dated between 1000 and 1125 A.D. based on the decorative style. She selected a few sherds and worked with a graduate student to grind off the edges for testing, then sent the material to W. Jeffrey Hurst at the Hershey Center. He tested the powder using an analytical method he had developed and found the presence of theobromine, a marker for Theobroma cacao or chocolate.

The finding is the first concrete evidence that the people of Chaco Canyon or anywhere in the Southwestern U.S. traded for cacao beans. It’s long been known there was trade with the Maya in the southern lowlands of Mexico from evidence of copper bells, cloisonnι and skeletons of scarlet macaws. Until this discovery, cacao had been found no further north than central Mexico.

Crown says anthropologists don’t know whether the people at Chaco walked to Mesoamerica to trade for the cacao beans or whether traders brought them north or whether the beans simple passed from hand to hand from one group of people to another.

Owner of the Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe and local chocolate historian Mark Sciscenti has created a recipe for Mayan Chocolate from the ingredients the Mayans were known to have used.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New Mexico. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New Mexico. "Chocolate Drink Used In Rituals In New Mexico 1,000 Years Ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203173331.htm>.
University of New Mexico. (2009, February 5). Chocolate Drink Used In Rituals In New Mexico 1,000 Years Ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203173331.htm
University of New Mexico. "Chocolate Drink Used In Rituals In New Mexico 1,000 Years Ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203173331.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

AFP (Sep. 25, 2014) — American doctor and photographer Jeff Gusky reveals the underground quarries used by the soldiers of World War One, and the artwork they left behind which illustrates their hopes and fears. Duration: 02:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins