Ritual Black Drink consumption at Cahokia

Patricia L. Crown, Thomas E Emerson, Jiyan Gu, W. Jeffrey Hurst, Timothy R Pauketat, Timothy Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Chemical analyses of organic residues in fragments of pottery from the large site of Cahokia and surrounding smaller sites in Illinois reveal theobromine, caffeine, and ursolic acid, biomarkers for species of Ilex (holly) used to prepare the ritually important Black Drink. As recorded during the historic period, men consumed Black Drink in portions of the American Southeast for ritual purification. This first demonstrated discovery of biomarkers for Ilex occurs in beaker vessels dating between A.D. 1050 and 1250 from Cahokia, located far north of the known range of the holly species used to prepare Black Drink during historic times. The association of Ilex and beaker vessels indicates a sustained ritual consumption of a caffeine-laced drink made from the leaves of plants grown in the southern United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13944-13949
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume109
Issue number35
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 28 2012

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Mississippian ritual
  • Organic residue analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this