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Cocoa usage dates back 5300 years ago: Study

ANI | Updated: Nov 01, 2018 00:16 IST

Washington DC, [USA] Oct 31 (ANI): Turns out, people knew how to make chocolates 5300 years ago.
According to a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution journal, traces of cocoa have been found in ancient pots in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Scientists claimed it to be the oldest proof of cocoa use ever found. Notably, it predates the usage of cocoa by the Olmec and the Mayan civilisation in Central America some 1500 years ago.
This evidence was collected in the southern Ecuadorian Amazon, at the Santa Ana La Florida (SALF) archaeological site near Palanda. It was discovered 16 years ago by archaeologist Francisco Valdez and his team.
The Mayo Chinchipe, the oldest known Amerindian civilization in the upper Amazon, had consumed it. Traces of houses and of a ceremonial site still remain.
"Evidence of cocoa use was found by analysing the starch grains characteristic of the genus Theobroma, traces of theobromine, a biochemical compound specific to mature cocoa beans, and ancient cocoa DNA found in ceramic vessels, some of which dated back more than 5300 years" , said a lead scientist Claire Lanaud.
"The vessels came from tombs or domestic settings; they clearly showed that cocoa was used both as a funerary offering and for daily consumption," Lanaud added.
The Santa Ana-La Florida archaeological site is located within the area of origin of the Nacional cocoa variety grown on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, from which all the fine cocoa produced in the country originated.
The presence of seashells, such as spondylus and strombus, from the Pacific coast, at the archaeological site demonstrates that there were communication links between the peoples of the Pacific coast and those of the Amazon, such as the Mayo Chinchipe.
"This latter group may, therefore, have played a major role in domesticating cocoa in general and the Nacional variety in particular," she further mentioned. (ANI)