Ritual drinks in the pre-Hispanic US Southwest and Mexican Northwest PNAS Early Edition



This article presents the results of a large-scale National Science Foundation-funded study of organic residues from archaeological sites in the US Southwest/Mexican Northwest. It reveals widespread use of two different caffeinated plants, cacao and holly, as the basis for drinks used in communal, ritual gatherings. This is the largest study of its kind, both in terms of numbers of samples and in terms of temporal/spatial scope. It is the first to argue for holly beverage consumption in the US Southwest/Mexican Northwest. The combined evidence for cacao and holly beverage consumption has implications for our understanding of distant resource acquisition and shared cultural practices in North America.