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Why Chocolate? An Historical Archaeology of Chocolate Producers and Consumers, Fifteenth to Eighteenth Century

Author(s): Kathryn Sampeck

Year: 2014

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Summary

Much archaeological and historical attention has been devoted to chocolate consumers. This paper presents the archaeology of producers of not just cacao beans, the tree seed used to make chocolate, but the probable region of origin of the term and recipe for chocolate specifically. The Izalcos region of today’s western El Salvador is a case study of the colonial crucible of the mutually discursive forces of rapid depopulation, intense pressures for hyperproduction, colonist reaping of fantastic, rapid wealth, and creative resilience of indigenous populations. The shifts of the daily conditions of producers can be effectively linked with the changes in Atlantic World trade regulations, commercial ventures in British colonies (Providence and Williamsburg), and the semantic and experiential place of chocolate (chocolate as a way of being, chocolate as a flavor) and highlights that the exotic and sensual qualities associated with chocolate are a product of its colonial history. The question of “why chocolate” goes to the very heart of Spanish colonialism--its ties to the rest of the Atlantic World, the particular case of the inhabitants of the region, and the volatile colonial economy.


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Why Chocolate? An Historical Archaeology of Chocolate Producers and Consumers, Fifteenth to Eighteenth Century. Kathryn Sampeck. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436856)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-33,05

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America