A recent study of pottery samples from Southwestern archaeological sites has illustrated the extent of stimulant usage.

The study examined 200 pottery vessels looking specifically for evidence of stimulant use from Colorado to Chihuahua. The study found that 20% of the fragments contained traces of stimulants. The stimulants used were cocoa and a yaupon holly. The holly was used to make a beverage known as ‘black drink’ which was apparently six times stronger than coffee. The study has further implications regarding the existence of a trade network moving caffeine between the Rockies and the heart of Mexico.

“There are no known plants in the Southwest or Northwestern Mexico that have caffeine,” said Dr. Patricia Crown, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico who led the study.


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Picture credit: “Ancestral Pueblo, Mesa Verde black on white mug, 1200-1300 CE, Heard Museum II” by Wmpearl – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ancestral_Pueblo,_Mesa_Verde_black_on_white_mug,_1200-1300_CE,_Heard_Museum_II.JPG#/media/File:Ancestral_Pueblo,_Mesa_Verde_black_on_white_mug,_1200-1300_CE,_Heard_Museum_II.JPG