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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Uncovering Pre-Columbian Cultures in the Southwest
Five cylinder jars from Pueblo Bonito. Catalogue Nos. H3414, H3229, H3406, H3415, and H4153. Courtesy Patricia Crown, from the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, photograph by Marianne Tyndall.

In 2009, University of New Mexico professor Patricia Crown and her collaborator Jeffrey Hurst published an academic paper detailing a remarkable archaeological discovery: evidence of a vast trade network, extending from Northern New Mexico to Mesoamerica, that existed as early as the tenth century A.D. In New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, Crown had located the first evidence of chocolate consumption north of what is now Mexico. The NEH, which had funded Crown’s research into ancient Southwest pottery in the past, provided her with another grant to explore the Chacoans’ religious rituals and culture, specifically through an investigation of Room 28 in Pueblo Bonito, a room that had been excavated in the late nineteenth-century and then filled back up with dirt. Room 28 had once held 112 cylinder-shaped pottery jars used for drinking chocolate.

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