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Cacao Residues in Ancient Maya Vessels from Rio Azul, Guatemala
Grant D. Hall, Stanley M. Tarka, Jr., W. Jeffrey Hurst, David Stuart and Richard E. W. Adams
Vol. 55, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 138-143
Published by: Society for American Archaeology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/281499
Page Count: 6
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Results of chemical analyses on residues collected from ceramic vessels found in an Early Classic period Maya tomb revealed that certain of the residues contained theobromine and caffeine, a clear indication that the corresponding vessels once contained cacao in some form. One of the vessels yielding cacao residues is decorated with hieroglyphs, two of which we believe have the phonetic values for the word "cacao" in the Mayan language. These findings are significant for three reasons: (1) a new method for recognizing ancient cacao use is demonstrated, (2) a novel way of verifying glyph interpretations is presented, and (3) data are generated that indicate what contents certain Maya vessels actually held, thus permitting useful functional interpretations.
American Antiquity © 1990 Society for American Archaeology