Prehistoric Americans Traded Chocolate for Turquoise?
Chemical traces of cacao found at New Mexico site.
Traces of a chemical found in cacao—the main ingredient in chocolate—were found in several drinking vessels from various sites in Pueblo Bonito, a complex of sandstone "great houses" in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Ancestral Puebloan peoples built the complex, the epicenter of the ancient Chaco culture, in stages between A.D. 850 and 1150.
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But cacao, a tropical fruit that grows in Central and South America, was cultivated in prehistoric times only in Mesoamerica, a region that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica (see map).
The findings suggest the New Mexico complex also served as a trading hub for Mesoamericans and Puebloans between the 11th