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The Original Cocoa Treat: Chemistry pushes back first use of the drink

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11:22am, July 17, 2002

It's a triumph of bad housekeeping. Chemical analysis of residues from ancient Maya vessels that had been unwashed for 2 millennia has revealed that the pots held cocoa almost 1,000 years before its previously known earliest use.

Made from the beans of the tropical plant Theobroma cacao, cocoa was a favorite drink of ancient Maya and Aztec people in Mesoamerica. That helps explain why archaeologists have long referred to certain spouted Maya vessels as "chocolate pots," even though these predated chemical evidence of cocoa consumption, says Terry G. Powis of the University of Texas in Austin.

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