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The chemical signatures of chocolate have been found on pottery shards in New Mexico dating from 1000 A.D., indicating that the practice of drinking chocolate had reached North America 400 years earlier than expected–and that the imbibers went to great lengths to procure the delicacy. The nearest source for the cacao, which was made into a bitter beverage used in religious and other rituals, was more than 1,200 miles to the south in Mexico [Los Angeles Times].
Traces of the cacao seeds that are the source of chocolate were found in shards from cylinder jars found at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. The site was occupied by the Chaco culture for millenniums, but it grew rapidly beginning about AD 900. The multistory pueblo itself contains an estimated 800 rooms [Los Angeles Times]. One of those rooms housed a collection of 111 tall, cylindrical vessels, and anthropologist Patricia Crown had been puzzling over their use. Previously, researchers thought that Spanish conquistadors carried the first cacao seeds to North America centuries later.
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