What’s in a Seed?: Identifying Archaeological Chili Pepper Remains from Mesoamerica


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The chili pepper (Capsicum spp.) has cemented its place in ancient and modern Mesoamerica as a fixture in medicine, ritual, and cuisine. The timing and context of its domestication which began around 10,000 years BP, however, remains unclear. To address this, we conducted morphometric analyses of a diverse array of modern seeds from multiple species of wild and domesticated Mexican chilies and used that data to create a basis for identification and comparison of species and varieties within the genus Capsicum. This methodology was then applied to the identification and study of archaeological seeds from multiple sites within the Mesoamerican region spanning thousands of years. From this analysis, we can document the diversity of chili peppers across time and space within the region and gain clearer insight into its impact on the lives of ancient peoples, as well as how patterns of its domestication are interwoven within—and influenced—by greater political, social, and cultural changes.

Cite this Record

What’s in a Seed?: Identifying Archaeological Chili Pepper Remains from Mesoamerica. Emily McKenzie, Taylor Puckett, Lawford Hatcher, Katherine Chiou. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449373)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24908