Earliest evidence of chocolate found near Canyonlands
Jan 31, 2013 | 2254 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A pottery bowl found in an archaeological site in the Four Corners area contains traces of several compounds found in chocolate. Researchers say the find, from a site near Canyonlands National Park, is the oldest known evidence of the use of cacao beans in North America. Photo courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology/Harvard University
A pottery bowl found in an archaeological site in the Four Corners area contains traces of several compounds found in chocolate. Researchers say the find, from a site near Canyonlands National Park, is the oldest known evidence of the use of cacao beans in North America. Photo courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology/Harvard University
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Eighth-century inhabitants of a site near Canyonlands National Park evidently had a collective sweet tooth, recent archaeological findings indicate.

A research team representing the University of Pennsylvania found traces of chocolate in bowls discovered in an ancient village on Alkali Ridge. Their findings are scheduled for publication in the April edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

“The presence … is the earliest reported use of cacao in the northern American Southwest, coming centuries earlier than the recently documented Pueblo II consumption of cacao in cylinder jars, sharp-shouldered pitchers and shallow bowls at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon,” according to the article’s abstract.

The cacao found at Chaco Canyon is believed to date from the 11th and 12th centuries, researchers said.

One member of the team, Dorothy Washburn, told Reuters news service that the bowls probably belonged to corn farmers whose ancestors migrated north from Central America.

A spokesman for Canyonlands National Park said park officials have no plans to publicize the discovery on the park’s website or in an exhibit. He explained that, although the chocolate was found near the park, the Four Corners region is so rich in archaeological data that acknowledging each discovery would be an overwhelming task.

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