Back in the 1980s, archaeologists working in the middle east realized one day that the origin of agriculture …. domesticated barley, to be exact … in that region was all about beer. This is because this early barley could not be de-shelled to make flour. The only practical way to consume it was to make beer out of it.
That explained a lot of things…
Now, there is a report that the origin of chocolate is also all about beer.
From the New York Times:
The ancient peoples of Mexico and Central America loved to drink chocolate. But their beverage was nothing like the modern one — it was a frothy, bitter brew of fermented, roasted and ground cacao seeds, often spiced with chile peppers, more like mole poblano than Swiss Miss.
New archaeological findings by John S. Henderson of Cornell and Rosemary A. Joyce of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues push the date of the first use of cacao back to about 1100 B.C., 500 years earlier than previously known. What’s more, the researchers suggest that this early beverage was something different again — a fermented beer made from cacao pulp, not seeds.
I’ve had a few beers with Rosemary, and I think she’s one of the more insightful archaeologists working in “The Maya Zone.”