I get all my Maya world news by reading the daily digests I receive from the FAMSI Aztlan listserve, an email group intended for “all persons interested in Pre-Columbian cultures, whether amateurs or professionals.”
Yesterday, Mike Ruggeri, who runs his own Maya Archaeology News and Links page, reported on the Maya wire that “seed residues of chocolate have been found in a dish and not vases for the first time in Mesoamerica. The discovery was made at the Paso del Macho site near a ball court in the Maya Puuc region of the Yucatan. This shows the Maya used cocoa as a condiment as well as a beverage. The residue is dated at 600-500 BCE.”
Ruggeri continues: “It appears to be like a mole sauce preparation found on the dish. The finds were analyzed by a joint team from INAH and from the USA. Mass spectrometry was used to identify the traces. This adds to the growing body of evidence that the Puuc region was far more developed as a Maya cultural area much earlier than had been believed before.”
INAH, the Mexican Institute of Archaeology, has the official story here (in Spanish): “Descubren cacao de hace 2,500 aÃ±os en YucatÃ¡n”.
For the traveler, this means even more chocolate-coated intrigue during your Maya chocolate tour this year. Every country in the Maya region offers some form of “ruta de cacao,” either as day trips of multi-day packages.