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Evidence of Corn Beer Found in the Greater Southwest

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Southwest corn beer PROVO, UTAH—Anne Katzenberg of the University of Calgary is examining the remains of people who lived at Casas Grandes, a trade center located in what is now the Mexican state of Chihuahua. As part of the study, graduate student Daniel King of Brigham Young University has analyzed dental calculus on the teeth of 110 people who were buried in the ancient city or in the Casas Grandes River Valley between A.D. 700 and 1450. Fermented starch granules were found on teeth dating from the site’s Medio Period, about 1200 to 1450. “The results of this study offer some of the first hard evidence for the production of corn beer, consumption of corn smut, and food processing methods” in the Greater Southwest, he told Western Digs. But the use of corn beer, or chicha, has been recorded in Central and South America as long as 5,000 years ago. “Turning maize into beer during the Medio period, however, could suggest an influx of new ideas—or perhaps even people—during that time, which might indicate outside influence—either foreigners coming to Casas Grandes, or locals traveling and coming back with new ideas,” King explained. To read in-depth about another ancient Southwestern culture, go to "On the Trail of the Mimbres."

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