Earliest use of chilli sauce put back hundreds of years

22 November 2013 James Urquhart   Chemical analysis of 2000 year old pottery artefacts…

Georgia (Nov 25, 2013)

Link To Article

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/11/earliest-use-chilli-sauce-put-back-hundreds-years

 

Chemical analysis of 2000 year old pottery artefacts unearthed in southern Mexico suggests that the people living there were spicing up their diet with chilli sauce and drinking chilli flavoured beverages, possibly as part of rituals, almost a thousand years earlier than previously thought.

Relatively few ancient specimens of Capsicum have been uncovered and the earliest known evidence of domesticated chillis – from macrofossils – dates back to around 6000 years ago in Ecuador and Mexico. However, to date, no chemical analysis has been performed on artefacts either – whether pottery vessels or stone tools – to determine if chilli peppers were used by ancient cultures living in these regions.

Now, Terry Powis at Kennesaw State University, US, and colleagues have chemically analysed the residue in 13 pottery vessels, including spouted jars, pots and vases. The potteries are 1700–2400 years old and were discovered at an archaeological site in the state of Chiapas, which was at that time inhabited by the Mixe–Zoquean people.

'The best and most direct evidence for chilli pepper use in Mesoamerica prior to our study is from Ceren,' says Powis. 'So our work pushes back this date from circa AD540 to circa 400BC. To be honest, our study is the only one of its kind to show direct evidence of chilli pepper use. In all of the other examples listed in the paper there is only indirect evidence – of chillis and pots found together. We actually linked the two together for the first time, and that is an important development. Therefore, we actually have the earliest known consumption of the peppers.'  …         



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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