Anthropology Faculty Publications and Presentations

Chocolate on the Borderlands of New Spain

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In modern grocery stores, chocolate is a small item dwarfed in the allotted shelf space by its bitter cousins, coffee and tea. Yet, in the first three centuries of the post-Columbian era, the cacao-based drink, once reserved for the elites of Mesoamerica, was transformed into a beverage that was enjoyed across the Spanish colonial world and beyond to the rest of Europe and the respective colonial empires. We explore the archaeological and documentary evidence from both shipwreck and terrestrial sites in the borderland region of New Spain including California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and the Philippines to illustrate the presence and use of chocolate from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. We show that the study of chocolate on the fringes of New Spain provides a lens for understanding the dynamics of larger issues surrounding the birth of the modern global economy.


Copyright © 2016, Springer Science Business Media New York.

Publication Title

International Journal of Historical Archaeology