Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History announced the discovery of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan peninsula. This is for the first time that ancient chocolate residue was found on a plate rather than a cup, suggesting it may have been used as a condiment or sauce with solid food. The discovery also suggests some link to ancient roots for traditional dishes eaten in today's Mexico, such as mole, the chocolate-based sauce often served with meats. "This is the first time it has been found on a plate used for serving food," archaeologist Tomas Gallareta said. "It is unlikely that it was ground there (on the plate), because for that they probably used metates (grinding stones)."

As part of a joint project, experts at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi tested the fragments. The results revealed a ratio of theobromine and caffeine compounds which indicate cacao usage. "These are certainly interesting results," John S Henderson, a Cornell University professor of Anthropology and one of the foremost experts on ancient chocolate. Henderson was not involved in the Paso del Macho project but wrote in an email that "the presence of cacao residues on plates is even more interesting ... the important thing is that it was on flat serving vessels and so presented or served in some other way than as a beverage."

"I think their inference that cacao was being used in a sauce is likely correct, though I can imagine other possibilities," he added, citing possibilities like "addition to a beverage (cacao-based or other) as a condiment or garnish."

The plate fragments date to about 500 BC. The traces of chemical substances considered "markers" for chocolate were found on fragments of plates uncovered at the Paso del Macho archaeological site in Yucatan in 2001. Beverage vessels found in excavations of Gulf coast sites of the Olmec culture, to the west of the Yucatan, and other sites in Chiapas, to the south, have yielded traces around 1,000 years older.

Mexico’s rich history continues to awe many. Such excavations are testimony to the rich culture heritage that once thrived.