The Two-Way
2:13 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Experts Find Ancient Mayans May Have Used Chocolate As Condiment

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 2:38 pm

Archaeologists have made a surprising discovery: They announced they found traces of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate as opposed to a cup.

The conclusion they make is that it means ancient Mayans not only drank chocolate but also used it as a condiment.

The AP reports the discovery was made public by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The AP adds:

"'This is the first time it has been found on a plate used for serving food,' archaeologist Tomas Gallareta said. 'It is unlikely that it was ground there (on the plate), because for that they probably used metates (grinding stones).'

"The traces of chemical substances considered 'markers' for chocolate were found on fragments of plates uncovered at the Paso del Macho archaeological site in Yucatan in 2001.

"The fragments were later subjected to tests with the help of experts at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of a joint project. The tests revealed a 'ratio of theobromine and caffeine compounds that provide a strong indicator of cacao usage,' according to a statement by the university."

If you look at the Mexican news outlets, they are reporting that this finding connects modern Mexican food with its ancient roots.

"The Mayans ate mole," the headline on Yucatan.com.mx reads.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.