Chilehead Neanderthals, perhaps?
Chili peppers have ancient history
New fossil evidence shows prehistoric people were spicing things up
By Lauran Neergaard
WASHINGTON – Who says food fads can't last? Thousands of years before the advent of Tex-Mex, ancient Americans were spicing up stew with red hot chili peppers.
New fossil evidence shows prehistoric people from southern Peru up to the Bahamas were cultivating varieties of chilies millennia before Columbus' arrival brought the spice to world cuisine.
The earliest traces so far are from southwestern Ecuador, where familie
s fired up meals with homegrown peppers about 6,100 years ago. The discovery, reported Friday in the journal Science, suggests early New World agriculture was more sophisticated than once thought.
“Some people who have described ancient food ways as being simple will probably have to rethink their ideas because of this work,” said lead researcher Linda Perry of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
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