Topic ID #22105 - posted 8/7/2012 2:24 AM

Researchers find evidence of ritual use of 'black drink' at Cahokia



Jennifer Palmer

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Researchers find evidence of ritual use of 'black drink' at Cahokia       

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — People living 700 to 900 years ago in Cahokia, a massive settlement near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, ritually used a caffeinated brew made from the leaves of a holly tree that grew hundreds of miles away, researchers report.

The discovery – made by analyzing plant residues in pottery beakers from Cahokia and its surroundings – is the earliest known use of this "black drink" in North America. It pushes back the date by at least 500 years, and adds to the evidence that a broad cultural and trade network thrived in the Midwest and southeastern U.S. as early as A.D. 1050.

The new findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlight the cultural importance of Greater Cahokia, a city with as many as 50,000 residents in its heyday, the largest prehistoric North American settlement north of Mexico.


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