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Living Room Lecture: Cacao in Mesoamerica and South America

In this presentation, Dr. Jonathan J. Dubois will focus on cacao and the iconography associated with it in the Ancient Americas. Most of our knowledge about the practice of rituals involving the consumption of fermented cacao beverages comes from Mesoamerican ethnohistory and Classic Period (300-900 CE) iconography and epigraphy. Recent studies have demonstrated that cacao was likely domesticated in Northwestern South America at least a millennium before it came into use farther north. Dr. Dubois’ investigations have begun to demonstrate that imagery related to cacao in Mesoamerica also appears more than a millennium earlier in South America, during the Formative (1500-500 BCE). He will discuss the iconographic evidence from both regions and explore the implications of this evidence. Dr. Dubois will conclude with a discussion of an ethnohistoric model for what these earliest long-distance traders may have been – specialists in the ceremonies and traditions surrounding the plants and objects they were trading in. This event will be held on Zoom and is limited to 100 participants.

Proceeds from our Living Room Lecture series help provide critical support for the care of Center collections and virtual programs for all ages.

Date: Thursday, September 30, 2021
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Online on Zoom
Cost: Pay what you wish

Register for Lecture

Registration closes at 4 PM on September 30.


About the Presenter

Jonathan J. Dubois (Ph.D. UC Riverside 2017), adjunct professor at California State University San Bernardino, is a landscape archaeologist whose work lies at the intersection between symbolism, landscape, and social organization in past societies of Northwestern South America and Belize. He has conducted field work on the Central Coast, the Central Andes, and the Northwestern Amazon of Peru, as well as in the Rio Frio region of Belize. He documented rock art at more than 20 sites in the Central Andes, resulting in the dissertation Transformational Refractions of Social Messages in the Rock Art of Huánuco, Peru. He is co-director of Proyecto Arqueologico del Noroeste de America del Sur (PANOAS), which is focused on uncovering the interactions amongst peoples of Northwestern South America and longer-distance relationships between them and past peoples of Mesoamerica as evidenced through shared material practices and expressions of cosmological symbols in multiple archaeological media. This project is part of a larger, international cooperative effort, with Jon Spenard of CSU San Marcos, focused on better understanding the interregional interactions of pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas. He has recently had an article published in Cambridge Archaeology Journal titled Singa Transitional: Rock-Art Saywas Marking Boundaries of Identity in Huánuco, Peru.