Countries and sites in the Ancient Cacao Map database that have directly dated cacao macro-botanical or micro-botanical samples or indirectly dated micro-botanical samples.

Country Sites Directly Dated Samples Indirectly Dated Samples Total Samples
Chemical samples Macro samples Micro samples Chemical samples Macro samples Micro samples
Belize 2 0 0 0 3 1 0 4
Ecuador 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2
El Salvador 1 0 0 0 0 5 0 5
Guatemala 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 4
Honduras 2 0 0 0 23 0 0 23
Mexico 3 0 0 0 29 0 0 29
U.S.A. 4 0 0 0 51 0 0 51
7 14 0 0 1 110 6 0 118


Directly Dated Samples:

These include all samples with AMS or conventional radiocarbon dates directly on cacao macro-botanical fragments (such as seeds, husks, etc.) as well as samples of chemical signatures, micro-botanical remains including phytoliths, pollen, and starch grains that are contained (or trapped) within directly dated organic residues. For example, phytoliths and starch grains trapped in residues adhering to pottery can be precisely dated when the organic residues containing them are dated using AMS dating. So far, these types of samples are extremely rare, or non-existent in the archaeological record, because cacao remains do not preserve well, and when they occasionally do preserve, they have not yet been directly dated.

Indirectly Dated Samples:

This category includes chemical samples (theobromine), macro-botanical (Theobroma seeds, husks, wood, etc.) and micro-botanical remains (phytoliths, pollen, and starch grains) that have been dated by association. Cacao samples that are associated either with AMS or conventional radiocarbon dates on other organic material such as charcoal, wood, shell, or bone indirectly associated with the cacao remains, fall into this category. Also, cacao remains that are in or on pottery vessels or fragments of vessels that belong to a known chronological phase are also considered to be indirectly dated. When using this latter group of ceramic phase dates, we estimate the phase mid-point in calibrated years before present (cal BP).