Chocolate gets its sweet history rewritten
Long believed to have been domesticated in Central America some 4,000 years ago, cacao has a more interesting story than previously thought.
When did humans first start cultivating chocolate? It's not just a candy conundrum: the question has long interested both biologists and anthropologists who wonder how and why cacao became so important to ancient Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Maya and Aztecs, both of whom cherished chocolate so much they used it in religious rites and as currency.
Archaeological evidence has pointed to the first use of cacao in Mesoamerica about 3,900 years ago. Traditionally, archaeologists have assumed that Mesoamericans were the first not just to use cacao, but to cultivate it.
Now, new research published in Communications Biology suggests that cacao was first domesticated around 3,600 years ago—and not in Mesoamerica.
In their hunt for the origins of domesticated cacao,