The bottle gourd or calabash, Lagenaria siceraria is one of man's first cultivated plants and was and still is often used as a water container. It was grown in Oaxaca as early as 8000 BCE. The variety found in the Americas is of African origin and probably arrived in the Americas via ocean current drift.
Just a few miles outside of Mitla, Oaxaca lies the Guilà Naquitz (White Cliff) Cave where the earliest evidence of agriculture in the New World can be found. The first plant grown - a type of squash.
1944, in Acambaro, Guanajuato, a German immigrant and hardware merchant named Waldemar Julsrud allegedly found small ceramic figurines. Waldemar Julsrud paid his employee, Odilon Tinajero, one peso for every figurine he could find or be put back together. Eventually 33,500 pieces were found!! Many of these figurines appear to be dinosaurs.
Some Christians used these finds to push for the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis and as credible evidence for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans.
According to Wikipedia, "Attempts have been made to date the figures using thermoluminescence (TL) dating. The earliest results, from tests done when TL dating was in its infancy, suggested a date around 2500 BC. However, later tests contradicted these findings. In 1976, Gary W. Carriveau and Mark C. Han attempted to date twenty Acámbaro figures using TL dating. They found that the figures had been fired at temperatures between 450 °C and 650 °C, which contradicted claims that these figures had been fired at temperatures too low for them to be accurately dated. However, all of the samples failed the "plateau test", which indicated that dates obtained for the Acámbaro figures using standard high-temperature TL dating techniques were unreliable and lacked any chronological significance. Based on the degree of signal regeneration found in remeasured samples, they estimated that the figures tested had been fired approximately 30 years prior to 1969."
Chocolate first consumed as early as 2,700 B.C.E.
Chocolate was both eaten and drank by Mesoamericans. The only plant in Mesoamerica to have the alkaloid theobromine is the T. Cacao, the plant used for making chocolate. Ceramics, radiocarbon dated as early as 2,700 B.C.E., have had their interiors scraped out and sent to a laboratory where the alkaloid theobromine was found. The production of chocolate predates the Olmecs.
The Mesoamericans prepared their chocolate in a variety of ways. Ground cacao would be mixed in a wide variety of ways. Ground dried chili, achiote, ground corn, ground seeds of the cieba tree, honey, ground zapote seeds, vanilla and a variety of dried ground flowers. Chocolate could be red, black or white.
The Maya preferred their drink to be hot and the Aztecs preferred their chocolate to be cool.
Cacao was used as Currency
In 1545 in Tlaxcala, a turkey was worth 100 full cacao beans or 120 shrunken cacao beans. A turkey egg was worth 3 cacao beans; a newly picked avocado was worth three cacao beans, a fully ripe avocado was worth one; a large tomato was worth one cacao bean, a tamale was worth one cacao bean and a large axolotl (a type of salamander, an Aztec delicacy) was worth 4 cacao beans, a small one was worth 2 or 3 cacao beans. (Today, 19 October 2015, I could buy a kilo of cacao beans (70 cacao beans?) for 70 pesos, or roughly U.S. $4.50.)
Chocolate was a consumed by the elite. Every time an Aztec drank cacao, he literally was consuming money. Kind of like lighting up a cigar with a twenty dollar bill.
The value of cacao beans fluctuated depending on availability, just as silver did in colonial Mesoamerica. Cacao beans retained its function as a small currency throughout almost all of the colonial period. Cacao, like colonial coinage was counterfeited.
Chocolate was widely traded. Archaeologist have found cacao and the remains of 33 Scarlet Macaw more than a 1000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away from their natural habitat. Some of the macaw bones date to as early as 900 C.E. Confirming Mesoamerica had trade routes with the American Southwest as early as 1200 years ago.
In Arizona, ceramics from elite burials dating from 1300 to 1400 C.E. of the classical Hohokan culture have been found to contain the alkaloid, theobromine, i.e., cacao.
The Pochteca were the long distance traders of the Aztec Empire. They probably absorbed some of their merchant ways from the Putún Maya. The name itself, Pochteca, refers to "People from the Land of the Ceiba-tree" which grow in the tropical lowlands, such as the Yucatán. These merchants were kind of a hereditary guild with its own Gods and rites. They were not town merchants but merchants who mounted expeditions to the Yucatán and beyond. They may have traded as far as north as New Mexico and as far south as Nicaragua.
The task of the Pochteca was to find and acquire feathers, jaguar skins, slaves cacao, amber other precious stones. Certainly the Pochteca could speak many languages and probably served as information gatherers or spies for the Aztec Empire.
The vigesimal or base 20 numeral system, rather than the decimal numeral system, was used by the Tlingits (along the west coast of Canada), the Inuits or "Eskimos", Mayans and the Aztecs.
The Bottle Gourd
Earliest Agriculture of the New World
Long Distance Trading in Mesoamerica
Photos taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).