New evidence has emerged that suggest humans were harvesting and ingesting cacao, the bean from which chocolate is made, much earlier than previously thought. In recent research it was found that as long as 5,300 years ago is when humans consumed cacao which is a full 1,500 years earlier the previous results of the origin of chocolate.
In a new paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, shows that humans have indeed been consuming the delicious treat known as chocolate. According to the paper, Theobroma cacao, was domesticated by Mesoamericans around 5,300 years ago in the Upper Amazonian region of South America.
Cacao was economically and politically important as the seeds were a key commodity in trade, were used as tribute payment and as currency and cacao was cultivated in large plantations. The various chocolate drinks, and especially the frothy foam created from them, held a prominent role in rituals, feasts and consumption by the elite, and specialized vessels were used in their preparation, storage and serving. Cacao trees, pods, seeds and drinks were also intimately associated with their myths and gods.
Crops of the Theobroma plant have shown to be important throughout history. Despite this factor, the true significance of this has been limited to the lack of information archeologist have to go on.
[Historic] sources document dozens of uses for both Theobroma and Herrania in South America, including use of the seeds as medicine and food, the pulp eaten fresh, as a juice or as a fermented alcoholic beverage and the bark and leaves for medicinal extractions and infusions. Importantly, sources also indicate that T. cacao was in cultivation on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador before the arrival of the Spanish. Despite these accounts, and that ancient ceramic vessels from Ecuador and the north coast of Peru include [graphic] representations of cacao pods, no unequivocal direct archaeological evidence for the pre-Columbian use of cacao has hitherto been reported for South America.
It is my hope that this was informative. If you would like to tread the full paper you can do so by clicking here. What are your thoughts on these findings? It seems that we are always discovering new things about previous life on earth. From the simplest to the more complicated.