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1000 Year History: Theobroma Cacao “Food of the Gods”

July 9, 2010

“In 1753 Carl von Linneaeus, the Swedish scientist, thought that chocolate was so important that he named the genus and species of the chocolate tree himself. He named this tree Theobroma Cacao, which literally means: cacao, the food of the gods. Just what the indigenous Native Americans called it.” Naked Chocolate, David Wolfe

Xocolatl Chocolate Mayan Painting

Xocolatl Chocolate Mayan Painting from

The New Superfood “Theobroma Cacao” with a 1000 Year History

“The Maya archaeological site at Colha in northern Belize, Central America, has yielded several spouted ceramic vessels that contain residues from the preparation of food and beverages. Here we analyse dry residue samples by using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to atmospheric-pressure chemical-ionization mass spectrometry, and show that chocolate (Theobroma cacao) was consumed by the Preclassic Maya as early as 600 bc, pushing back the earliest chemical evidence of cacao use by some 1,000 years. Our application of this new and highly sensitive analytical technique could be extended to the identification of other ancient foods and beverages.” Archaeology: Cacao usage by the earliest Maya civilization. W. Jeffrey Hurst1, Stanley M. Tarka, Jr1, Terry G. Powis2, Fred Valdez, Jr2 & Thomas R. Hester. Nature

Ancient Theobroma  Cacao Chocolate Mayan Mugs

Ancient Theobroma Cacao Chocolate Mayan Mugs

“Chemical analyses of organic residues in fragments of ceramic vessels from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, reveal theobromine, a biomarker for cacao. With an estimated 800 rooms, Pueblo Bonito is the largest archaeological site in Chaco Canyon and was the center of a large number of interconnected towns and villages spread over northwestern New Mexico. The cacao residues come from pieces of vessels that are likely cylinder jars, special containers occurring almost solely at Pueblo Bonito and deposited in caches at the site. This first known use of cacao drinks north of the Mexican border indicates exchange with cacao cultivators in Mesoamerica in a time frame of about A.D. 1000–1125. The association of cylinder jars and cacao beverages suggests that the Chacoan ritual involving the drinking of cacao was tied to Mesoamerican rituals incorporating cylindrical vases and cacao. The importance of Pueblo Bonito within the Chacoan world likely lies in part with the integration of Mesoamerican ritual, including critical culinary ingredients.” Evidence of cacao use in the Prehispanic American Southwest, Patricia L. Crowna,1 and, W. Jeffrey Hurst, The National Academy of Sciences of the USA

Experience Stone Ground Cacao with Medicinal SuperFoods

2 Comments leave one →
  1. OBie permalink
    November 29, 2010 7:03 am

    Do you know the purpose of the four little clay loops located near the top on the cylindrical kakau vessels?? OBie


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