In The Pot

15 Nov 2007

Ten small ceramic pots found in Puerto Escodito, Honduras, serve as proof that chocolate has been a delicacy since 1100 BC, according to the Environmental News Network.

Researchers recently determined that the 3,100 year-old celebratory vessels contain residues of a chemical compound found only in the cacao plant.

‘The earliest cacao beverages consumed at Puerto Escondito were likely produced by fermenting the sweet pulp surrounding the seeds,’ wrote researchers in an article that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is believed that the drink was an ‘accidental byproduct’ of brewing; ground cacao beans were later mixed with seasonings to form a spicy, bubbly drink served to the elite at celebrations and festivals.

While it has been widely accepted that cacao was used as currency, the residue offers new information on the role of food and beverage in Mesoamerican civilizations.

‘What we are seeing in this early village is a very early stage in which serving cacao at fancy occasions is one of the strategies that upwardly mobile families are using to establish themselves, to accumulate social prestige,’ explained anthropologist John Henderson in a phone interview.

‘I think this part of the process by which you eventually get stratified societies,’ he added.

Environmental News Network:

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