Our love affair with chocolate goes back 1,500 years longer than we thought
Humans have hankered after chocolate for centuries longer than previously thought, scientists say. They have traced the earliest known consumption of its key ingredient to more than 5,000 years ago in South America. Archaeologists have long believed that ancient civilisations in Central America started drinking concoctions of cacao the bean-like seeds from which cocoa and chocolate are made from around 3,900 years ago. But in a study that shifts the origins of chocolate centuries backwards, a team of scientists travelled to Santa Ana-La Florida, in modern day Ecuador, the earliest known archaeological site of the Mayo-Chinchipe civilisation. They analysed artefacts from tombs and ceremonial pyres including ceramic bowls, jars and bottles as well as stone bowls and mortars for theobromine, a bitter chemical found in cacao.
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