There have long been rumors of the role of cocoa in the ancient Mayan civilization. Recently, for the first time, a study showed that cocoa used to be the currency of this civilization.
David Freidel, an anthropologist at Washington University, Missouri, thinks that Maya civilization does not use money, either dong or paper money. Instead, like many ancient civilizations, they often used bartering methods such as exchanging corn for cigarettes, exchanging tobacco cigarettes for corn .
Even when the Spanish colonists came to this land in the 16th century, Europeans still used cocoa beans to pay for local labor. However, scientists still do not know if cocoa is used as a currency.
To find out, answers Science, Joanne Baron, an anthropologist in New Jersey, USA, analyzes a series of traces of Mayans left in today's plains of Mexico, focusing on 250-900 year period after Christ.
Traces include paintings on the wall, on pottery, or pieces of cave carvings with content describing the sale of civilians and nobility.
Baron discovered that cocoa or chocolate was not popular in artworks in the early years of AD but appeared more since the middle of the 7th century.
In many paintings on this stage, the team often sees a woman giving a vase that seems to contain hot chocolate in exchange for goods, usually baking dough.
However, the above images do not prove that cocoa is used as a currency , but it does not affect an exchange item.
The team continues, and things start to clear up. Baron recorded about 180 pottery or wall paintings from 691 to 900, depicting traders paying tribute to Maya chieftains, cloth bags that indicated the amount of dry beans inside.
"Especially kings, they collect cocoa in much larger quantities than consumer demand. Some of these everyday goods exchange scenes also appear in cocoa bags. This gives us the reasoning of cocoa. was used to make money , "Baron said.
Why is cocoa but not another crop? Because cocoa characterizes the land of Mayan civilization. Cocoa cannot grow rampant like corn and corn and cannot live in some urban areas. Cocoa is also often offered at a much higher price than regular foods.
The study is published in the Journal of Economic Anthropology.
David Freidel says more research is needed to determine exactly whether the Maya use cocoa as a currency.
If so, will the failing cocoa seasons affect the economy of this country? And when the crisis of cocoa cultivation has an impact on the collapse of this civilization?