A Tale of Two Species: How Chocolate and Macaws became Prestige Items in Mesoamerica, the American Southwest, and Europe

Patricia Crown, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 12:00 pm, Free

Patricia CrownPatricia CrownPhoto courtesy of W.H. Wills. Patricia CrownPhoto courtesy of W.H. Wills. Chocolate and macaws were important in ritual and exchange in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest over a millennium before the Spanish entered the New World. The Spanish rapidly adapted and adopted these commodities into their own economic system. Far from their tropical home, chocolate and macaws spread through Europe, becoming status symbols of the European elite. How did a plant and a bird become prestige items in so many different cultures? Dr. Crown draws on archaeological research and art history to show how the elite on two continents used these two species as luxury items, displaying both the species and images of them over many centuries.
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