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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:05 PM

Earliest evidence of chocolate in North America found in Utah

MOAB -- 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, 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.

The new research is “exciting, no doubt. … Archaeologists have been looking for Mesoamerican connections to the Southwest for 100 years,” says Robert Hard of the University of Texas, San Antonio, who specializes in the archaeology of the Southwest and was not involved in the new study. But, he says, “I’m not convinced this is chocolate.”

The findings stem from collaboration between Dorothy Washburn, an archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, and her husband William Washburn, a chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey. In an earlier study, they detected evidence of cacao in pottery from 11th century burial sites in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and in vessels from other Southwestern sites. As a follow-up, the scientists tested bowls excavated in the 1930s from Site 13, which dates to roughly 770 C.E.

http://www.standard.net/stories/2013/01/23/earliest-evidence-chocolate-north-america-found-utah


More evidence of the robustness of trade and contact between Mesoamerica and the Southwest.

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Reply Earliest evidence of chocolate in North America found in Utah (Original post)
bluedigger Jan 2013 OP
LiberalEsto Jan 2013 #1
marybourg Jan 2013 #2
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 #3

Response to bluedigger (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:11 PM

1. Hail to those unsung geniuses!

Chocolate 4 ever!

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Response to bluedigger (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:11 PM

2. Any one who hasn't seen Chaco Canyon and the New Mexico

state parks nearby should try to ge there if at all possible. Amazing and little known to Americans.

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Response to bluedigger (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:00 AM

3. Ancient farmers in present-day Utah may have sweetened lives with chocolate

Ancient farmers in present-day Utah may have sweetened lives with chocolate
By Eric M. Johnson
Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:57pm EST

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Ancient corn farmers living in pit houses among arid canyons of what is now Utah may have sweetened their lives with a chocolate derivative imported from the tropics of Central America, recent archeological findings suggest.

An archeologist and team of chemists analyzing the remains of an eighth century village near present-day Moab found theobromine and caffeine, compounds found in a cacao tree native to Central America and from which chocolate is derived.

"We associate cacao use with the migration of corn farmers from Mexico into the Southwest," University of Pennsylvania archeologist Dorothy Washburn said on Friday.

But the new findings suggest that cacao, a bean that was ground up and used to flavor food and make drinks, may have arrived in the region hundreds of years earlier than previously thought, and from farther afield, she said.

More:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/25/usa-utah-cacao-idUSL1N0AU8JW20130125?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=rbssConsumerGoodsAndRetailNews&rpc=401

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