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Cacao was in use in South America centuries before its exploitation by civilisations in Mexico and Central America

 

 

The key ingredient of chocolate was being used in South America centuries before it was exploited by civilisations in Mexico and Central America, according to new research.

The cacao tree, and in particular the drinks made from its dried seeds,

has long been linked to the Maya

and other ancient civilisations in Mesoamerica –

But now experts say seeds from the cacao tree were first used

in present-day Ecuador by members of the Mayo Chinchipe culture,

in research that pushes back the date of the first cacao use

by about 1,500 years and shifts the location

of the culinary event 1,400 miles to the upper Amazon.

 

It was used by people more than 5,000 years ago

 than what was previously thought 

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