The populations of the Amazon were already great lovers of cocoa 5,300 years ago, fourteen centuries before what was supposed until now, according to evidences discovered in an archaeological site in southern Ecuador.
Of more than 220 samples of ceramics analyzed, “30% contained cocoa. A large amount that reflects current usage, “explains Claire Lanaud, a geneticist with the Center for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (Cirad, for its acronym in French), co-author of the study published on Monday. “This cannot be the result of an occasional harvest in the forest,” adds the specialist, for whom cocoa was already really part of everyday life.
The remains were found in the ceramic objects of the archaeological site of Santa Ana Florida, discovered in 2002 on the lower slopes of the Andean mountain range in southern Ecuador. The Chinchipe Mayo that occupied this place represent the oldest Amerindian culture of the upper region of the Amazon basin known to date. Remains of houses and a ceremonial site still remain.
According to the study published on the page of the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the Indians of the Amazon used the seeds of cocoa as a funeral offering and daily food. Until now, the oldest remains of theobromine, a specific component of mature cocoa seeds, had been found in Central America in ceramic objects over 3,900 years old. (I)