Chaco Choco

Image courtesy of Caroline Jean Fernald

We are very excited to welcome University of New Mexico Southwest archaeologist Dr. Patricia Crown to the Millicent Rogers Museum on Sunday, February 10th for a special lecture on the journey of chocolate in the Southwest from 2-4 p.m.  Her lecture will be followed by drinking chocolate from Chokola, one of my favorite local chocolate shops.  Tickets are available here or at the door the day of the event. I recommend arriving early as seating is first come, first served.

Dr. Crown is one of the researchers who found that cacao from central Mexico was imported all the way to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico hundreds of years before the first Europeans set foot in the Southwest.   Chaco Canyon is an UNESCO World Heritage site managed by the National Park Service and is surrounded by land belonging to the Diné (Navajo) nation.  Although Chaco Canyon continues to be a significant cultural site, its historic cultural peak was between 850-1150, and its purpose as a residential or ceremonial space continues to be debated.  Regardless of its purpose, the Ancestral Pueblo people who populated Chaco were not isolated in the middle of the desert, but very well-connected with far-reaching cultures. They exchanged goods and were in communication with people along the coast, into the northern plains, and as far south as central Mexico, a distance of well over a 1,000 miles. 

Image courtesy of Caroline Jean Fernald

Through these connections, the Ancestral Puebloan people were able to be cosmopolitan. They had marine shells from California, copper from the Great Lakes, and other luxury goods that were traded north from central Mexico by foot or by boat because, prior to European contact, there were no horses in the Americas.  If you have never been, a visit to Chaco Canyon is an absolute must, but not until you learn about Dr. Crown's amazing discovery at the Millicent Rogers Museum first!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you at the museum!

Dr. Caroline Jean Fernald

Executive Director