Sun, Nov 04, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Ecuadorean discovery pushes back origins of chocolate
厄瓜多考古大驚奇 巧克力起源前推千年

An Ecuadorean farmer holds a cacao fruit at a farm in Las Naves, roughly 350km southwest of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, on Sept. 26, 2010.
距離首都基多西南方約三百五十公里的拉斯納韋斯縣一處農場中,一名厄瓜多農夫手中握著一顆可可果,攝於二○一○年九月二十六日。

Photo: Reuters
照片:路透

People have been enjoying chocolate far longer than previously known, according to research published on Monday detailing the domestication and use of cacao beginning 5,300 years ago at an ancient settlement in the highlands of southeastern Ecuador. Scientists examined ceramic artifacts at the Santa Ana-La Florida archeological site, a remarkably preserved village and ceremonial center that was part of the Mayo-Chinchipe culture of the Andes, and found abundant evidence of the use of cacao, from which chocolate is made.

The study indicates cacao was domesticated roughly 1,500 years earlier than previously known, and that it occurred in South America rather than in Central America, as previously thought. A tropical evergreen tree called Theobroma cacao bears large, oval pods containing the bean-like cacao seeds that today are roasted and turned into cocoa and multitudes of chocolate confections, although chocolate at the time was consumed as a beverage.

The scientists found evidence of cacao’s use at the site over a period starting 5,300 years ago — more than 700 years before building of the Great Pyramid of Giza in ancient Egypt — until 2,100 years ago. They found cacao starch grains in ceramic vessels and pottery shards. They also detected residue of a bitter compound found in the cacao tree but not its wild relatives, evidence that the tree was grown by people for food purposes, as well as DNA fragments from the cacao tree.

“They clearly drank it as a beverage, as shown by its presence in stirrup-spout pots and bowls,” said University of British Columbia anthropologist and archaeologist Michael Blake, who helped lead the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. “The presence of cacao starch grains likely means that they ground the seeds to make the beverages, and so probably, though we aren’t certain, fermented the seeds as well, before grinding them,” Blake added.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. domestication n.

人工培植、馴化

(ren2 gong1 pei2 zhi2; xun2 hua4)

2. cacao n.

可可豆

(ke2 ke3 dou4)

3. bear v.

結果

(jie2 guo3)

4. confection n.

糕點、點心

(gao1 dian3; dian3 xin1)

5. beverage n.

飲料

(yin3 liao4)

6. starch n.

澱粉

(dian4 fen3)


Archeological evidence indicates cacao domestication moved into Central America and Mexico about 4,000 years ago. Before European conquerors arrived in the Americas five centuries ago, great civilizations like the Aztecs and Maya prepared chocolate as a drink, mixed with various spices or other ingredients. “The freshly picked ripe cacao pods have a delicious sweet pulp around them, and mixed together it all has a very mild chocolate taste,” Blake said. “The chocolate confections today contain a great deal of sugar, and this is very different from the indigenous uses of cacao reported in the historical records from the 1500s and 1600s.”

(Reuters)

根據週一發表的一份研究顯示,人類享用巧克力的歷史比先前所知的還要悠久。該研究詳細指出,在厄瓜多東南部高地的一處古老聚落,發現五千三百年前已開始出現可可豆的人工培植和食用跡象。在聖塔安娜─佛羅里達考古遺址──當地保存著狀況絕佳的村落遺跡,曾作為儀式中心,屬於安地斯山脈「馬由─欽奇佩」文化圈的一部分──科學家仔細檢驗出土的陶瓷工藝品,並發現充分證據顯示使用可可豆,也就是製作巧克力的原料。

研究指出,人工培植可可豆的時間點比先前所知還要再往前推大約一千五百年,並且始於南美洲,而非之前認為的中美洲。可可樹是一種熱帶常青樹,會結出大而橢圓形的豆莢,包覆著像豆子般的可可種子。今日,可可種子會在烘培後被做成可可粉和各式各樣的巧克力糕點,不過巧克力在當時其實是被用來作成飲料喝下肚。

科學家在該遺址發現使用可可豆的證據,當地的人類活動始於五千三百年前──比古埃及建造吉薩大金字塔的時間還要早了七百多年──到兩千一百年前。在陶瓷容器和陶器碎片中,科學家找到可可豆的澱粉粒,還偵測到只會在可可樹中發現,卻不存在於野生近親樹種中的一種苦澀化合物殘餘,這是人類為食用目的而種植可可樹的證據,同時也發現可可樹的DNA片段。

英屬哥倫比亞大學的人類學暨考古學家麥可‧布雷克指出:「可可豆出現在蹬型壺嘴陶罐和碗裡,證明當地人明顯是把可可豆作成飲料來喝。」布雷克協助主導這份發表於《自然─生態學與演化》期刊的研究,他補充說:「可可豆澱粉粒的存在,表示當地人會把可可豆磨碎來做成飲料,所以,雖然我們還不能確定,他們或許也會在磨碎可可豆前先進行發酵。」

考古證據顯示,可可豆的人工培植技術大概在四千年前傳入中美洲和墨西哥。五個世紀前,當歐洲的征服者們抵達美洲時,諸如阿茲特克和馬雅等偉大文明皆會把巧克力調製成飲料,裡面加入各種香料和其他成分。布雷克表示:「剛摘下來的新鮮可可豆莢裡面含有美味而香甜的果肉,如果把它跟可可豆混在一起,就會產生一種非常溫潤的巧克力口感。」這名學者也說:「今日的巧克力糕點加入大量的糖分,這跟十六世紀和十七世紀留下來的歷史紀錄中,對於當地可可豆使用方法的描述是大相逕庭的。」

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