Is Cacao originally from the Ecuadorian Amazon?
There are archeological findings that point in that direction. From 2002 a group of French and Ecuadorian archeologist, have studied a site in Palanda, south – east of Ecuador, were they found traces of a lost culture they named Mayo – Chinchipe, which flourished in the Amazonian jungle thousands of years ago.
Excavations showed a highly developed settlement, artifacts of polished stone of great sophistication and traces of agriculture. They also show that Cacao was domesticated here about 3,500 years ago, long before the Olmecas. Some researches point that Cacao was known and used by these communities in their wild form as back as 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. This support their claim that Cacao is an indigenous plant from the Amazon Jungle, and that it was domesticates there.
These findings challenge the assertion that Cacao was domesticated in Mexico. They also show traces that Mayo – Chinchipe were in contact with groups in the highlands and coastal areas of Ecuador, specifically with Valdivia, a very old culture on the shore of the Pacific Ocean that produced the oldest known pieces of ceramic of the sub continent. A working hypothesis is that the Valdivians, traders and navigators, took the beans to Central and North America, where the Spaniards got acquainted with Cacao.
The rest is known history.