Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
#257143 - 11/18/07 07:13 PM Earliest chocolate drink found  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,978
Marty Online happy
Marty  Online Happy
A recent find in Honduras sheds light on the cacao bean and it's use for an alcoholic drink and money.

Earliest chocolate drink found

It was alcoholic and a far cry from today's sweet confection, reports Roger Highfield

Our love affair with chocolate began at least 500 years earlier than previously thought, and was combined with a love of alcohol too, according to traces of the treat found in pottery shards uncovered in Honduras.

Archaeologists have long known that cocoa was cultivated in the land between the Americas - including what today is Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize - for thousands of years and was the favourite drink of the powerful elite.

Chocolate ultimately became the standard of economic value, or "money," for the Aztec empire, who used it for virtually all social and ritual occasions so it became one of the most fashionable and valued commodities in 16th-century central America.

Today, researchers say that residue of the chemical theobromine, which occurs in Mesoamerica only in the cacao plant used to make chocolate, is present in the shattered remains of liquid-holding pottery vessels dating from somewhere between 1400 and 1100 BC, marking the earliest known chocolate drink of the New World.

Prof John Henderson of Cornell University, Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, and Hershey Foods analysed pottery dug from the site of Puerto Escondido in the Ulua Valley for theobromine and other compounds.
advertisement

Today, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reports that chemical traces indicate that the locals were making cacao beverages much earlier than thought.

"The results were astounding," says Dr McGovern. "Every vessel gave a positive signal for theobromine, the fingerprint compound for cacao in Central America."

In this, the first home of chocolate lovers, the drink was a far cry from modern hot chocolate: this was an alcoholic fermented beverage made from the sweet pulp that surrounds the seeds of cacao, rather than a chocolate-flavoured drink made from the seeds.

"This development probably provided the impetus to domesticate the chocolate tree and only later, to prepare a beverage based on the more bitter beans," suggests Dr McGovern. "An alcoholic beverage from the pulp, carrying on this ancient tradition, continues to be made in parts of Latin America."

The style of the pottery used to pour this drink - elegant serving vessels with spouts and decorated with motifs - indicates that cacao was served at important ceremonies to mark weddings and births, according to the team.

The famous frothy chocolate beverage served on special occasions in later times in Mesoamerica, especially by elites such as Aztec lords, was made from cacao seeds, with chilli pepper often added to make it more interesting, sometimes honey, herbs and flowers too.

Invading Europeans came to appreciate sweet forms of this beverage (chocolatl in the language of the Aztecs), giving rise to the taste of modern chocolate at the heart of a huge industry.

The previous oldest evidence was recovered from brown residues found inside 2,600-year-old Mayan pottery - chocolate vessels - from Colha, in what is now northern Belize.

Chocolate was a key part of elite Mayan culture, notably in its weddings. The word for chocolate - ka-ka-w in ancient Mayan hieroglyphs - often appears on the outside of Mayan chocolate vessels.

Other ancient societies, notably in the Near East and China, were making various kinds of alcoholic hooch for rituals too, from honey, grapes and hawthorn fruit. "The beverages of China and the Near East also became the prerogative of the elite, and were incorporated into religious ceremonies and celebrations," Dr McGovern noted.

"They were often of considerable economic value, just as the cacao bean was the medium of exchange in the Aztec empire, and they were traded, given in tribute, and offered as gifts to fellow rulers and the gods."



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/11/12/scichoc112.xml


#257179 - 11/19/07 09:22 AM Re: Earliest chocolate drink found [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 11,756
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
fascinating


The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

Links
Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!

Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!


Things to do

News
Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
BelizeNews.com
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Amandala
Love FM
The Reporter
Caye Caulker
Chronicles

PLUS TV
TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
SanPedroScoop
iTravel Belize
Paradise Theater

Blogs
San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
Tacogirl
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Bound for Belize
Conch Creative
As The Coconuts Drop
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Conch Shell Inn: All rooms are right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro, so within walking distance to anything and everything!!
Lil� Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
March
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
Mini Chat
Who's Online Now
1 registered members (Marty), 69 guests, and 7 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Statistics
Forums44
Topics64,833
Posts464,577
Members18,780
Most Online1,262
Jun 10th, 2007



AmbergrisCaye.com CayeCaulker.org HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town
BelizeSearch.com Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History
BelizeNews.com Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory
BelizeCards.com Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0