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Archaeology & History

Origin of chocolate pushed back 1,500 years

By T.K. Randall
November 2, 2018 · Comment icon 7 comments

Cacao beans have been cultivated for thousands of years. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Isai Symens
New research has suggested that chocolate may have originated outside of Mexico and Central America.
Up until now the earliest cultivation of the cacao bean - the key ingredient in chocolate - was thought to date back to the Olmecs who made chocolate-based beverages around 3,500 years ago.

Now though, researchers have found evidence to suggest that the first use of cacao may have actually been by the Mayo Chinchipe culture of Ecuador as much as 1,500 years earlier.

"It is used by people in this area more than 5,000 years ago - way earlier than we have ever found in Mesoamerica and Central America," said study co-author Prof Michael Blake.
"It [tells] us that it was domesticated or at least under the process of domestication in this area."

The discovery was made at a site known as Santa Ana-La Florida which was first unearthed in 2002. The Mayo Chinchipe people were thought to have lived there between 5,500 and 3,300 years ago.

Traces of cacao were found inside mortars, bowls, bottles and jars at the site.

It is believed that its use may have held spiritual or ritualistic significance.

"It means even in these distant times it was a special use of this delicious beverage, and maybe even ceremonial beverage, that drew people's attention to it and perhaps sparked its movement throughout the rest of the Americas," said Blake.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (7)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by The Caspian Hare 6 years ago
https://www.cirad.fr/en/news/all-news-items/press-releases/2018/the-indians-of-the-ecuadorian-amazon-were-using-cocoa-5300-years-ago The use and domestication of Theobroma cacao during the mid-Holocene in the upper Amazon. Nature Ecology and Evolution  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Piney 6 years ago
One of our best "return packages" to Europeans. COKE! 
Comment icon #3 Posted by BorizBadinov 6 years ago
Ancient people were wise knowing the best thing when sitting around a campfire at night is a nice cup of hot cocoa  
Comment icon #4 Posted by and then 6 years ago
As a long-term caffeine addict, I can say without hesitation that all it takes to remember that it IS a drug, is to be without it for a day or two  
Comment icon #5 Posted by BorizBadinov 6 years ago
I live on caffeine. I get headaches if I go even half a day without. It definitely has a harsh effect if you try and stop. That way I don't have to sleep.... because I cant .
Comment icon #6 Posted by Tatetopa 6 years ago
Not to mention gambling, cigarettes, and fireworks for the locals.
Comment icon #7 Posted by third_eye 6 years ago
It is a curious fact to me that raw sugar, cocoa and coffee did not make that much of an impact in the long history of the East until quite recently ... more to do with a staple diet of rice and tea being the answer to all things Asian perhaps .... ~


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