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Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao (Maya Studies) Paperback – April 19, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A monumental contribution to the study of a plant food of basic importance from pre-Columbian times to the present in the Americas and now the world.... It will be the baseline for studies of chocolate in the Americas and the world for the foreseeable future. -- Rene Millon

Book Description

Winner of the Society for Economic Botany's Mary W. Klinger Book Award

 

"A triumph of four-field anthropology. Botany, archaeology, linguistics, ethnography, and a small bit of physical anthropology are seamlessly united. . . . Without integration of the fields, few or none of the interesting conclusions in this work could have been reached."--American Anthropologist

 

"Contains a watershed of interesting and exciting information. . . . For those with a serious interest in food history and foodways, it is an invaluable source of up-to-date information on one of the most beloved and revered foodstuffs in the Americas."--Austin Chronicle

 

"A unique, extremely useful collection on chocolate use in Mesoamerica that sets a standard to follow in the expanding field of cultural food studies."--Choice

 

"McNeil has here assembled an impressive stable of scholars to examine all aspects of cacao development and use in Mesoamerica from its discovery to its use by the modern Maya."--American Archaeology

 

"In this collection of 21 papers, the authors discuss the linguistic, chemical, agricultural, medicinal, economic and social aspects of the cacao plant, often in exhaustive detail."--Cambridge Archaeological Journal

 

"I highly recommend the book for specialists as well as for the general public interested in knowing more about cacao; the reading is not complicated and is presented from an anthropological perspective."--Journal of Ethnopharmacology

 

 

 

A volume in the series Maya Studies, edited by Diane and Arlen Chase.

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Product Details

  • Series: Maya Studies
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (April 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813033829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813033822
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By M. Vasta on April 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great contribution to the field of Mesoamerican studies. When I ordered it I wasn't sure what to expect, but I have really enjoyed it. The interdisciplinary approach allows for a thorough examination of the role of cacao in the cultural life of indigenous Mesoamericans, past and present. I appreciated the diachronic examination of the subject as it allows the reader to better understand how cacao was and is culturally important to Mesoamericans. Additionally, it demonstrates how this seed become significant to the colonial economy as well as the larger world market. The history of cacao's Native American origins is fascinating. Cacao or chocolate has become an important part of many cultures foodways however its Native American origins are largely overlooked in its contemporary context. McNeil's compilation of current scholarly research about cacao nicely demonstrates the origin and development of this Native American resource.
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Format: Hardcover
Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao, 2006., edited by Cameron L. McNeil, Gainesville: University Press of Florida (ISBN 0-8130-2953-8) represents the most comprehensive study of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) published to date. The breadth and scope of this important reference source is impressive. Contributions include research and analysis involving various methodological approaches, anthropology, archaeology, art history, conservation biology, and epigraphy, to explore the role of cacao in ancient and contemporary Mesoamerica and its origins as a domesticate. Scholars from a variety of fields provide new evidence on the domestication of cacao, its ancient use in foods other than beverages, its significance in Mesoamerican religion, and its role in elite feasts. Contributors also discuss: the value of cacao; the artistic conventions concerning cacao and its use; and the archaeological identification of cacao, including the recovery of seeds in archaeological context, residue analysis from ancient ceramics, and the hieroglyphic markings on ancient ceramic containers. These studies pose various questions such as: where beverages made from cacao pulp or only the seeds? Was cacao associated with the ancient elite and consumed primarily as a beverage? Was cacao widely available to individuals and societies of non-elite status? Some researchers study current religious practices involving cacao, especially in Mexico and Guatemala, in order to determine if these practices may provide clues to ancient associations of this plant.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This volume includes papers by a number of experts on chocolate and Mesoamerica. The chapters are well written and form the most complete coverage of this domesticate in a single volume. The papers consider cacao from multiple perspectives including botany, iconography, ritual, politics, and economy. They also cover a broad geographic area including a number of pre-Columbian and modern cultural groups in Mesoamerica.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are a chocolate lover, this is the book for you! So many books about this topic look at how chocolate developed outside of Mesoamerica. It is nice to read about cacao in its original cultural context. Interesting and well-organized. A nice addition to any chocolate connoisseur's library.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is extremely thorough. There are scholarly essays on all aspects of chocolate in Mesoamerica. There are chapters about the actual cacao trees, how it was used in pre-Columbian times, how it was used in different parts of Central and South America, what types of vessels were used for drinking and storing the chocolate, and much more. The only negative is that it is very scholarly so some of it is dry and probably more information that you would need. But you can always pick and choose the chapters you want to read or skip because you don't have to read the book in any specific order.
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