We started eating chocolate 1,500 years earlier than previously thought, paper says


New archaeological evidence suggests humans were cultivating and consuming cacao—the crop from which chocolate is produced—as long as 5,300 years ago, which is 1,500 years earlier than previously thought. What’s more, cacao was initially domesticated in the equatorial regions of South America, and not Central America.

Humans, as a new paper published today [October 29] in Nature Ecology & Evolution shows, have been consuming chocolate for a very long time.

[T]he researchers found starch grains linked to Theobroma inside pots, along with theobromine residue (a bitter alkaloid) that’s produced by T. cacao but not related wild species. What’s more, they also found bits of ancient DNA linked to T. cacao. With these three independent lines of evidence—starch grains, chemical biomarkers, and DNA sequences—the researchers have scored a hat-trick.


“These three methods combine to definitively identify a plant that is otherwise notoriously difficult to trace in the archaeological record because seeds and other parts quickly degrade in moist and warm tropical environments,” said [Sonia Zarrillo from the University of Calgary, lead author of the study].

Related article:  Podcast: How farmers grow the 2.7 billion pounds of coffee we drink every year

Read full, original article: Chocolate Has a New Origin Story

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