In historical Maya civilization, cacao wasn’t only for the elites.
Traces of the sacred plant present up in ceramics from all kinds of neighborhoods and dwellings in and round a former Maya metropolis, researchers report September 26 within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences. The discovering means that, opposite to earlier pondering, cacao was consumed at each social degree of Maya society.
“Now we all know that the rituals the elite depict with cacao have been seemingly performed out, like Thanksgiving, like every other ritual, by everybody,” says Anabel Ford, an archaeologist on the College of California, Santa Barbara.
Cacao — which chocolate is made out of — was sacred to the traditional Maya, consumed in rituals and used as a foreign money. The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) itself was linked to Hun Hunahpu, the maize god. Earlier analysis discovered cacao in ceremonial vessels and elite burials, suggesting that its use was restricted to these on the high.
To discover the extent to which cacao was utilized in broader Maya society, Ford and colleagues examined 54 ceramic shards relationship from A.D. 600 to 900 (SN: 9/27/18). The shards come from jars, mixing bowls, serving plates and vases considered consuming vessels. All of the items have been present in residential and ceremonial civic areas of various measurement and standing from metropolis facilities, foothills, upland areas and the valley across the former Maya metropolis of El Pilar, on the present-day border of Guatemala and Belize.
To establish cacao, the researchers looked for theophylline, a compound present in hint quantities within the plant. The staff discovered the compound on greater than half of the samples, on all kinds of ceramics and distributed all through social contexts.
Future analysis will transfer past who consumed cacao and discover the position of farmers in managing the important useful resource. “A greater query is to know who grew it,” Ford says, as a result of these individuals most likely had larger entry to the prized commodity.