Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Mesoamerican/Ancient Southwestern Trade

Mike Ruggeri Talk in January Explored Evidence of Trade Over Modern Borders

The weather outside was frightful but the company inside was delightful. Twenty three doughty armchair travelers shrugged off Chicagoland subzero temperatures. (The record for Chicago happened to be 27°!) Bad weather would get worse but the CAS carried on with a room filled with members.

Trade ln Ancient Mesoamerica
Michael Ruggeri, retired Professor of History from City Colleges of Chicago, engaged us with a detailed slide show in an area of his expertise in Mesoamerican trade routes.

The various archaeological sites of the U.S. Southwest are always a source of intense interest. Current events may have intensified interest. Mike Ruggeri explained how theobromine, a component remnant of cacao, found in special drinking vessels from various sites in Pueblo Bonito was evidence of usage of chocolate.

Chocolate was the drink of Mesoamerican royalty and cacao beans were also used as currency by Mesoamericans. As such, why would the Mesoamericans want to use it as a trade item? The suggestion is that the desire for turquoise was strong enough to allow cacao use as a trade item. Seems like a sweet deal.

Archaeological exploration has uncovered extensive evidence of trade at Paquime (a/k/a Casas Grande) and also aviculture with evidence of more than 800 macaws and parrots. The acquisition of exotic birds, e.g. “scarlet macaws”, seems to have been for sacrificial rituals. Such ceremonies must have consumed a considerable portion of the economy as evidenced by macaw and parrot aviculture and the sacrifice of hundreds of birds at Paquime.

The excellence of Mike’s presentation was absolutely rewarding, as was our first postmeeting informal dinner at Prairie Moon Restaurant.

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