The role of chocolate in the fall of the Mayan civilization
Ate whether someone is a chocolate bar that was literally at a premium? But the inhabitants of ancient Mesoamerica could do it every day. New research shows that chocolate has become something of money in the midst of the power of the Maya, and that the loss of this delicacy, may have played a role in the fall of famous civilization.
No one will argue with the fact that no money is simply nowhere, and it is one of the most important concepts in the history of mankind. Some love them, others hate it, but the fact is that earning money people devote a lot of time. Although today is accustomed to paper money, a number of subjects, used as cash throughout history, were frankly unusual. For example, the islands of Palau and Yap, his four stone disks, called "stones Rai", is still used to measure the wealth of local residents. In New France in the XVIII century it became the legal currency of playing cards, as supplies of gold and silver has been steadily declining. Colonial Virginia used as currency Tobacco and British Canada instead of metal coins used beaver pelts.
But perhaps the strangest currency belonged to the Mayan people. They have to pay taxes and trade used ... cocoa beans, from which chocolate is made.
In an article published in the journal "Economic anthropology" Joan Baron of Bard Early College Network, argues that the image of cocoa beans in the Mayan works of art demonstrate how chocolate is gradually turned from the food (although quite valuable) in cash used for purchases and payment of taxes. Maya, like any other culture, portrayed everyday life in his art. There is one interesting fact. In the earliest works of art are very few cocoa beans were shown, and they are clearly used as food. And to the VIII century cocoa was already practically in all the pictures, and the chocolate is already used for payment of taxes, as well as in trade. The whole trick is that as taxes paid 11 million beans every year, and in the food consumed only 2 million. Accordingly, that the nobility had to do with the nine million beans, but to not use them as money.
It is possible that the Maya began to depict the cocoa beans more often in his art only after being officially made their money. The more it is worth remembering that this is later started doing the Aztecs (there is documented evidence of this).
Why the Maya considered these beans so valuable
Mezoamerikantsy cocoa grown since 2000 BC. e., originally from making it a low-alcohol beverage. Later, locals have developed a foamy soft drink, similar to hot chocolate. This refreshing "vkusnuypirogek" quickly became more popular than its predecessor, and was used in offerings to the gods. Chocolate is so loved that cocoa came up with his deity, which was worshiped regularly.
of the XVI century naturalist Francisco Hernandez found that while in the territory of modern Mexico grew four types of cocoa beans, just the smallest grain allowed in the preparation of hot chocolate. Beans Larger used only for the exchange. The Spanish conquerors of Mexico also noted that, since the quality of the beans is often determined by their appearance, enterprising Maya and the Aztecs began to tint substandard beans ashes. Sometimes it seems that from which it would not make any money, they will still forge.
As people grew money on trees
Since the cacao tree is quite finicky (it likes to grow in a very wet soil), people simply could not just grow the money in their back yard. Only in certain regions of the Maya homeland could produce beans in large quantities. Therefore, an overabundance of chocolate has never been, and its value is not reduced.
As chocolate was associated with the fall of the Mayan Empire
Scientists suggest that the breach of beans supply could contribute to the fall of the Mayan civilization, causing sharp economic collapse. However, this is only a theory, because others feel that the lack of a reasonable cost of goods is unlikely to lead to the destruction of civilization.
So, while gold and silver coins were popular in most civilizations, the above examples show that with a little creativity as money, you can use anything you want. And is honest, all would not be happy if they occasionally paid in chocolate.