Caffeine Found in Goodman Point Vessels

Drinking vessel from northern Arizona

Research involving a Crow Canyon archaeologist has found evidence of caffeine use in the Goodman Point community.

Jamie Merewether, collections manager for the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, is a co-author on paper describing how the indigenous people of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico consumed caffeinated drinks more than a thousand years ago.

University of New Mexico anthropology professor Patricia Crown is the principal author of a paper just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Ritual drinks in the pre-Hispanic U.S Southwest and Mexican Northwest.”

Merewether assisted Crown with this research and provided her with mug sherds from Crow Canyon’s Goodman Point project. Five Goodman Point sherds were tested, and three have evidence of caffeine. The vessels may have been used to make a cacao-based chocolate drink or black drink, made with a particular species of holly.

National Public Radio has publicized the research, which will be of interest to modern coffee drinkers. See NPR's coverage here.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publication can be found here.

Merewether's work is just one example of research by Crow Canyon scientists. Laboratory Manager Kari Schleher recently published “Communities of Identity, Communities of Practice: Understanding Santa Fe Black-on-White Pottery in the Española Basin of New Mexico” in Journal of Archaeological Science. Co-authors for that paper were Suzanne L. Eckert and William D. James.

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