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Archive for the ‘South America’ Category

A network of fish ponds supported a permanent human settlement in the seasonal drylands of Bolivia more than one thousand years ago, according to a new study published May 15, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriela Prestes-Carneiro of Federal University of Western Para, Brazil, and colleagues.

Source: Ancient fish ponds in the Bolivian savanna supported human settlement

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Scientists analyzed bits of beer vessels from an ancient Peruvian brewery to learn what the beer was made of and where the materials to make the vessels came from. They learned that production was local and that the ingredients for the beer included pepper berries that would grow even in droughts. The authors argue that this steady, reliable access to beer helped maintain unity in the empire.

Source: The secret to a stable society? A steady supply of beer doesn’t hurt

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More on one of my favorite foods, Chocloate!

Source: Ancient Amazonian Chocolatiers

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Cacao pods

 

Original article::

Sciencedailt.com

 

Researchers find cacao originated 1,500 years earlier than previously thought

 

The study, published online today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, suggests that cacao — the plant from which chocolate is made — was domesticated, or grown by people for food, around 1,500 years earlier than previously thought. In addition, the researchers found cacao was originally domesticated in South America, rather than in Central America.

Archaeological evidence of cacao’s use, dating back to 3,900 years ago, previously planted the idea that the cacao tree was first domesticated in Central America. But genetic evidence showing that the highest diversity of the cacao tree and related species is actually found in equatorial South America-where cacao is important to contemporary Indigenous groups-led the UBC team and their colleagues to search for evidence of the plant at an archaeological site in the region.

“This new study shows us that people in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin, extending up into the foothills of the Andes in southeastern Ecuador, were harvesting and consuming cacao that appears to be a close relative of the type of cacao later used in Mexico — and they were doing this 1,500 years earlier,” said Michael Blake, study co-author and professor in the UBC department of anthropology. “They were also doing so using elaborate pottery that pre-dates the pottery found in Central America and Mexico. This suggests that the use of cacao, probably as a drink, was something that caught on and very likely spread northwards by farmers growing cacao in what is now Colombia and eventually Panama and other parts of Central America and southern Mexico.”

Theobroma cacao, known as the cacao tree, was a culturally important crop in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica — a historical region and cultural area in North America that extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Cacao beans were used both as currency and to make the chocolate drinks consumed during feasts and rituals.

For the study, researchers studied ceramic artifacts from Santa Ana-La Florida, in Ecuador, the earliest known site of Mayo-Chinchipe culture, which was occupied from at least 5,450 years ago.

The researchers used three lines of evidence to show that the Mayo-Chinchipe culture used cacao between 5,300 and 2,100 years ago: the presence of starch grains specific to the cacao tree inside ceramic vessels and broken pieces of pottery; residues of theobromine, a bitter alkaloid found in the cacao tree but not its wild relatives; and fragments of ancient DNA with sequences unique to the cacao tree.

The findings suggest that the Mayo-Chinchipe people domesticated the cacao tree at least 1,500 years before the crop was used in Central America. As some of the artifacts from Santa Ana-La Florida have links to the Pacific coast, the researchers suggest that trade of goods, including culturally important plants, could have started cacao’s voyage north.

Sonia Zarrillo, the study’s lead author and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Calgary who carried out some of the research as a sessional instructor at UBC Okanagan’s department of anthropology, said the findings represent a methodological innovation in anthropological research.

“For the first time, three independent lines of archaeological evidence have documented the presence of ancient cacao in the Americas: starch grains, chemical biomarkers, and ancient DNA sequences,” she said. “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.”

Discovering the origins of food that we rely on today is important because it helps us understand the complex histories of who we are today, said Blake.

“Today we all rely, to one extent or another, on foods that were created by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas,” said Blake. “And one of the world’s favourites is chocolate.”

 

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IMAGE: VARIETIES OF MAIZE FOUND NEAR CUSCU AND MACHU PICHU AT SALINERAS DE MARAS ON THE INCA SACRED VALLEY IN PERU, JUNE 2007. THE HISTORY OF MAIZE BEGINS WITH ITS WILD.

Eurekalert.org

More exciting news about Maze and it’s beginings!

You have to read this one.

I do believe the reference to “rice” means wild rice.

JLP

 

 

Scientists are revising the history of one of the world’s most important crops. Drawing on genetic and archaeological evidence, researchers have found that a predecessor of today’s corn plants still bearing many features of its wild ancestor was likely brought to South America from Mexico more than 6,500 years ago. Farmers in Mexico and the southwestern Amazon continued to improve the crop over thousands of years until it was fully domesticated in each region.

Source: Scientists overhaul corn domestication story with multidisciplinary analysis

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Sambaqui societies had sophisticated diet. Study suggests that hunter-gatherer communities living in coastal Atlantic Forest areas between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago consumed a range of plants and more carbohydrates than expected for the period and region.

Source: Study puts the Neotropics on the map of the world’s food production centers in antiquity

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Two examples of potato-shaped ceramics from the Moche culture of Peru. L: Anthropomorphic potato vessel from 400 AD in the Larco Museum, Peru. R: Potato shaped vessel from the Larco Museum, Peru.L: LARCO MUSEUM / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY SA 3.0. R: PATTYCH / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY SA 3.0

original Article:

Kristina Killgrove

Forbes.com

We may think of potatoes as the most basic of foods, given their modern ubiquity and low cost, but in the Moche culture in ancient Peru, archaeologists had assumed they were highly charged symbols of the elite because they were found only in artifacts. New research, however, has shown that our understanding of New World potato consumption is biased by the fact the starchy vegetable is nearly always consumed in its entirety.

In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Archaeological Science, researchers Guy Duke of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Victor Vásquez-Sanchez and Teresa Rosales-Tham of Arqueobios in Peru outline their method of starch grain analysis from ceramic and stone artifacts to investigate the use of potatoes in the Moche diet.

Their archaeological investigation focused on the site of Wasi Huachuma, located in the lower Jequetepeque valley of Peru, dating to 600-850 AD or the later years of the Moche culture. This site featured a platform mound, associated out buildings, burials, and a large residential area. The Moche civilization is well known for massive ritual structures like the pyramidal Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna, as well as for their extensively varied ceramic tradition that includes depictions of sex acts. Some Moche religious practices even involved ritual human sacrifice.

Given the rich history of impressive material culture, less research has been focused over the last century of archaeological investigation of the Moche into domestic contexts, including what food people were eating. But a recent turn in anthropological archaeology away from elite-only contexts to the remains of common people has greatly enriched the prehistory of cultures around the world.

 

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