Chili peppers came from Ecuadorian rainforests 6,100 years ago
February 15, 2007
The peppers originated in the lowland rainforests of western Ecuador, not Mexico or Peru as previously believed. The findings are based on analysis of chili pepper starch grains found at seven sites dating from 6,000 years ago to European contact.
"Sorting through microscopic particles and finding a type that distinguishes such an important plant group is like opening a window to the past," said lead author Linda Perry of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History,. "While we once based our understanding of chili peppers on rare sites with exceptionally good preservation, suddenly we are able to gain incredible insight into ancient agriculture, trade and cuisine by making these plants visible nearly everywhere they occurred."
Today chili peppers are cultivated worldwide and are an important ingredient in cuisines ranging from Asia to Africa.