Thursday, August 09, 2012

Black Drink

This NY Times article took me back to my salad days in Southeastern archaeology. We know from accounts of the earliest European explorers that the Mississippian Indians drank a tea brewed from holly leaves that was referred to as "black drink." Other than the fact that it was caffienated and played a role in some religious ceremonies, until now we haven't known a whole lot more about it.

Now researchers have found traces of black drink on perhistoric ceramic vessels recovered at the famous Mississipian site of Cahokia. They have been able to tie it to a particular species of holly, with implications for regional trade.

This work was done by Patricia Crown, who also did the research on identifying traces of cacao found on prehistoric ceramics from Chaco Canyon.

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