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Forming Mesoamerican Taste: Cacao Consumption in Formative Period Contexts

  • Rosemary A. Joyce
  • John S. Henderson
Chapter

Abstract

Until recently, most of our assumptions about cacao preparation and consumption in Mesoamerica were based on late documentary sources. In recent years, the amount of direct evidence of cacao consumption has rapidly grown. Even the earliest time periods of the Early and Middle Formative period have now provided evidence of cacao consumption, from the Gulf Coast of Mexico to the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, and as far east as Honduras. What is most remarkable about this early evidence for the use of cacao is the variety of preparations and serving practices implied by the combinations of vessels that have tested positive for chemical traces of cacao. In this paper, we discuss our own work at Puerto Escondido, Honduras, and argue that the initial use of cacao was as a fermented beverage, in comparison to other published data from Formative period sites. We emphasize the variety of ways cacao was prepared and consumed, rather than advocating a single model of area-wide cacao consumption. We suggest that we need to construct models that highlight variability over time and across space in the kinds of cacao foods prepared and served and the contexts of their preparation to fully understand the development of Mesoamerican taste over time.

Keywords

Alcoholic Beverage Gulf Coast Radiocarbon Date Formative Period Ceramic Vessel 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosemary A. Joyce
    • 1
  • John S. Henderson
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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