Rounded clay balls found in Mexico reveal an ancient Mayan cooking technique.
Planning a last supper party on December 21? To celebrate the Mayan way, you might need several clay balls.
That's one way the Maya cooked their food, according to U.S. archaeologists who have unearthed dozens of rounded clay pieces from a site in Mexico.
Conducted with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) and Millsaps College's financial support, the excavation of a kitchen at Escalera al Cielo in Yucatán revealed 77 complete balls and 912 smaller fragments.
About 1-2 inches in diameter and more than 1,000 years old, the clay balls contained microscopic pieces of maize, beans, squash and other root crops.
The finding supports the hypothesis that the balls "were involved in kitchen activities related to food processing," archaeologists Stephanie Simms, Francesco Berna, of Boston University, MA, and George Bey of Millsaps College, MS, wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
"This is the first time fired clay balls have been studied in the Maya area and, to my knowledge, no one has documented the use of clay balls in modern Maya cooking," Simms told Discovery News.