In 2009, University of New Mexico professor Patricia Crown published an academic paper detailing a remarkable archaeological discovery: evidence of a vast trade network, extending from Northern New Mexico to Ecuador and Bolivia that existed as early as the ninth 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. Crown’s discoveries are helping researchers reshape the way they think about the people who inhabited Chaco Canyon and their remarkable, complex culture. They are also being incorporated into new exhibitions at the Chaco Canyon National Historic Site’s visitor center.
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