Chocolate found on 2,500-year-old plate
2012 08 03

From: IrishTimes.com

Archaeologists say they have found traces of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico in a breakthrough suggesting it may have been used as a condiment or sauce with solid food.

It is the first time they have found ancient chocolate residue on a plate, rather than a cup.

Experts have long thought cacao beans and pods were mainly used in pre-Hispanic cultures as a beverage, made either by crushing the beans and mixing them with liquids or fermenting the pulp that surrounds the beans in the pod.

Such a drink was believed to have been reserved for the elite.

But 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 is the first time it has been found on a plate used for serving food,” archaeologist Tomas Gallareta said. “It is unlikely that it was ground there (on the plate), because for that they probably used metates (grinding stones).”

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.

The fragments were later subjected to tests with the help of experts at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of a joint project. The tests revealed a “ratio of theobromine and caffeine compounds that provide a strong indicator of cacao usage”, according to a statement by the university.

“These are certainly interesting results,” John Henderson, a Cornell University professor of Anthropology and one of the foremost experts on ancient chocolate, said.

Prof Henderson, who was not involved in the Paso del Macho project, said “the presence of cacao residues on plates is even more interesting ... the important thing is that it was on flat serving vessels and so presented or served in some other way than as a beverage”.

“I think their inference that cacao was being used in a sauce is likely correct, though I can imagine other possibilities,” he added, citing possibilities like “addition to a beverage (cacao-based or other) as a condiment or garnish”.

The plate fragments date to about 500 BC and are not the oldest chocolate traces found in Mexico. Beverage vessels found in excavations of Gulf coast sites of the Olmec culture, to the west of the Yucatan, and other sites in Chiapas, to the south, have yielded traces around 1,000 years older.

But it does extend the roots of Mexican cuisine, and the importance of chocolate, further back into the past.

“This indicates that the pre-Hispanic Maya may have eaten foods with cacao sauce, similar to mole,” the anthropology institute said.


Article from: irishtimes.com





Related Articles
’Death by chocolate’ plot to kill Sir Winston Churchill
The World’s Largest Chocolate Sculpture - Ancient Mayan Temple (weighs 18,000 lbs)
Boat made of chocolate (Video)
’Green racing car’ powered by chocolate ready to race


Latest News from our Front Page

"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to anarchy
2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka: Come with me And you’ll be In a world of Pure imagination ...
Artists ’have structurally different brains’
2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found. Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery. The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate. But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report. As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online
2014 04 17
A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping. Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...
Investigative Journalist Michael C. Ruppert Dead After Lifelong Struggle With Mental Illness
2014 04 17
We’re sad to hear the news about the death of Michael Ruppert. Rest in Peace. From Collapse Network, which is being constantly updated with new information: There is absolutely no doubt or question about it, Mike Ruppert took his own life. Rest in Peace, my brother. Wes Wesley T. Miller President & CEO Collapse Network, Inc. ******* I have been informed that MCR has committed suicide. I ...
Cyclopean Masonry: A Mystery of the Ancient World
2014 04 16
They don’t make things like they used to, and that is, in some cases, a monumental understatement. Silly wordplay notwithstanding, there is something to be said for the construction techniques of the old world. Where modern buildings are designed to withstand the elements; wind, temperature extremes, earthquakes and floods, today’s engineers have to strike a balance between economics ...
More News »