What is it about?

The prevailing belief: cacao was controlled by Maya ancient society’s very upper echelons, royalty. But, what about the farmers who grew cacao and the general populace? Our examination of cacao residues that could be in ancient ceramics from ordinary households as well as civic centers, we show that everyone was using cacao!

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Why is it important?

When the right question and test can be developed we can demonstrate or falsify claims. No one had examined everyday household materials for the presence of cacao, we did and found that the value of cacao was celebrated by all walks of life.


Science needs to test hypotheses and not make assumptions. We had a unique collaboration where a chemist and archaeologist converged on the possibility of testing the assumption that cacao was restricted to the elite because we had household belongings from small and large houses near and far from civic centers.

Anabel Ford
University of California Santa Barbara

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: New light on the use of Theobroma cacao by Late Classic Maya, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2121821119.
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