Dr. Astrid Runggaldier part of team who discovered first evidence of nixtamalization in the Americas

Assistant Director of The Mesoamerica Center and Associate Professor of Instruction Dr. Astrid Runggaldier has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science for her part in excavating and analyzing the first evidence of maize nixtamalization in the Americas.

At a Maya site in San Bartolo in Guatemala, Dr. Runggaldier was part of a team that discovered kitchen trash and latrines buried in bedrock pits from 600-800 CE in a good state of preservation. The team of researchers and co-authors found through paleobotanical evaluation the first known evidence of maize nixtamalization. 

Nixtamalization is a process in which the dried maize is soaked and then cooked in an alkaline solution. We see the roots of this process in the modern day creation of corn tortillas and the making of tamales. Before this discovery, maize nixtamalization had never been directly tied to any Maya archeological context.


The full paper is available to read here for free until July 5, 2022.

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