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It's one of those irregular verbs you can conjugate historically.

Ancient folk held shamanic rituals;
Victorian folk self-medicated;
Hippies got stoned;
Chavs are off their faces;
We, on the other hand, worry about caffeine! :nelly:

I sure don't worry about frickin caffeine. Pass the bong (hey hey).
A variety of drugs are known to have been used in ancient times ...

Prehistoric High Times: Early Humans Used Magic Mushrooms, Opium
Opium, "magic" mushrooms and other psychoactive substances have been used since prehistoric times all over the world, according to a new review of archaeological findings.

The evidence shows that people have been consuming psychoactive substances for centuries, or even millennia, in many regions of the world, said Elisa Guerra-Doce, an associate professor of prehistory at the University of Valladolid in Spain, who wrote the review.

Guerra-Doce's previous research showed the use of psychoactive substances in prehistoric Eurasia. The new review "brings together data related to the early use of drug plants and fermented beverages all over the world," Guerra-Doce told Live Science.

For example, the evidence shows that people have been chewing the leaves of a plant called the betel since at least 2660 B.C., according to Guerra-Doce's report. The plant contains chemicals that have stimulant- and euphoria-inducing properties, and these days is mostly consumed in Asia. ...

San Pedro cactus

These days, San Pedro cactus — which contains chemicals with hallucinogenic properties — is used in healing ceremonies by people living in the Andean mountains of South America, primarily in northern Peru ... But the earliest evidence of San Pedro cactus use was found in Guitarrero Cave, in Peru's Callejón de Huaylas valley. Researchers found pollen and traces of the cactus in the parts of the cave that were occupied the earliest, which date back to between 8600 and 5600 B.C.

Other evidence shows that a larger sample of material from the cactus found in the cave dated back to 6800-6200 B.C., according to the paper.

'Magic' mushrooms

The use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mesoamerica has been documented, thanks to the discovery of so-called mushroom stones, which are small sculptures resembling a mushroom. The sculptures have been found at numerous sites dating back to between 500 B.C. and A.D. 900 in Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador, according to the paper.

It's less clear how long ago magic mushrooms may have been used in Africa and Europe ...

Opium poppy

The earliest evidence of opium poppy use in Europe comes from the Neolithic site of La Marmotta in Italy, which dates back to the mid-sixth millennium B.C. ... The domestication of the plant in Europe likely began around that time, in the western Mediterranean, and then spread to northwestern Europe by the end of that millennium. ...


It is not clear exactly when humans started using tobacco, but it is generally assumed that the plant was native to South America, according to the study. Pipes for smoking have been discovered in northwestern Argentine archaeological sites that date to 2100 B.C.

Researchers suspect the pipes were used for smoking either tobacco or other hallucinogenic plants, according to the paper.

... The earliest remains of actual nicotine in a pipe in North America date to 300 B.C.

FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/49666-prehistoric-humans-psychoactive-drugs.html
Now there's confirmation of opiate trade in the Mediterranean region.

Ancient Mediterranean 'Juglet' Contained Traces of Opium
A curious-looking container, discovered in the Mediterranean and dating back to more than 3,000 years ago, has been found to contain traces of opium, according to a new study from U.K. researchers.

The findings add evidence to a long-running debate about whether the containers, called "base-ring juglets," were used to carry opium.

The containers were widely traded in the eastern Mediterranean around 1650 to 1350 B.C. ...

Beginning in the 1960s, some researchers hypothesized that the shape of the containers was a clue to their purpose: When inverted, they look like the seed heads of opium poppies. ...

Now, researchers from University of York and the British Museum have used a range of analytical techniques to provide the first rigorous evidence that the vessels did in fact contain opium.

The researchers studied a juglet from the British Museum. The juglet had been sealed, which allowed the contents inside to be preserved, the researchers said.

Initial analysis showed that the residue in the juglet was mostly composed of plant oil, but also suggested the presence of opium alkaloids, which are a group of organic compounds derived from the opium poppy. These compounds include the powerful painkillers morphine and codeine, as well as other compounds that don't have analgesic effects.

But in order to conclusively detect the opium alkaloids, the researchers needed to create a new analytical technique using instruments from University of York's Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry.

"The particular opiate alkaloids we detected are ones we have shown to be the most resistant to degradation," study co-author Rachel Smith, of University of York's Department of Chemistry, said in a statement. ... These degradation-resistant opiate alkaloids do not include morphine ...

The researchers stress that it's still unclear exactly how the juglet was used. "Could [the opiates] have been one ingredient amongst others in an oil-based mixture, or could the juglet have been re-used for oil after the opium, or something else entirely?" Smith said.

One previous hypothesis was that the juglet could have been used to hold poppy seed oil used for anointing or in a perfume. ...

The earliest evidence of opium-poppy use by humans dates to the sixth millennium B.C. (6000 to 5001 B.C.) ...

The study is published yesterday (Oct. 2) in the journal Analyst, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

SOURCE: https://www.livescience.com/63733-mediterranean-juglet-contained-opium.html
A SMALL POUCH, made from three fox snouts neatly sewn together, may contain the world’s earliest archaeological evidence for the consumption of ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant preparation indigenous to peoples of the Amazon basin that produces potent hallucinations.


The pouch likely belonged to a shaman in what is now southwestern Bolivia around a thousand years ago, according to José Capriles, an anthropologist at Penn State University and an author of a paper published on the discovery today in the journal PNAS.

Capriles found the pouch—and evidence of its trip-inducing contents—during a 2010 archaeological dig in Cueva del Chileno, a rock shelter that shows signs of human activity going back 4,000 years.

The cave was once used as a tomb, and though later looters took the bodies, they left behind what they considered to be garbage—beads, braids of human hair, and what Capriles first thought was a leather shoe.

That “shoe” turned out to be an archaeological treasure—actually a leather ritual bag or bundle containing the fox-snout pouch, a decorated headband, tiny spatulas made from llama bone, and a carved tube and small wooden platforms for inhaling substances. Radiocarbon dating of the leather bag surface indicated it was used sometime between around 900 to 1170 A.D.


maximus otter
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This recent discovery - also from China - is claimed to represent direct evidence of the earliest known cannabis smoking (ca. 2,500 years BP).
Signs of ritual pot smoking found in ancient Chinese graves

... Archaeologists have unearthed the earliest direct evidence of people smoking marijuana from a 2,500-year-old graveyard in western China.

In a complex of lofty tombs in the Pamir Mountains — a region near the borders of modern China, Pakistan and Tajikistan — excavators found 10 wooden bowls and several stones containing burnt residue of the cannabis plant. Scientists believe heated stones were used to burn the marijuana and people then inhaled the smoke as part of a burial ritual.

“It’s the earliest strong evidence of people getting high” on marijuana, said Mark Merlin, a botanist at the University of Hawaii. ...

The history of ancient drug use has long intrigued scholars. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote of people in Central Asia smoking cannabis around 440 B.C. In the past century, archaeologists have found cannabis seeds and plants buried in tombs across Central Asia’s highlands, including in southern Siberia, and elsewhere in western China’s Xinjiang region. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.apnews.com/58838bed92544a40a5ff9e20f3768498
The Scythians were major potheads, being buried with braziers for buds and poles for smoke tents. Yhey must be nearly as old as the Chinese finds. Herodotus mentions the Scythian "smoke baths"
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The Ancient Pots That Hint at Cannabis’s Early Use as a Drug
Incense burners recently unearthed in western China provide new evidence of marijuana’s ritual role, once known only from historic texts.

Marijuana can linger in the human system for a few months at most, but cannabis residue will stick to other surfaces for millennia. High up in the Pamir Mountains, in what is now western China, archaeologists were excavating the tombs of Jirzankal Cemetery when they came upon a set of braziers and asked themselves what purpose the tools served. After analyzing the residue, a team of researchers found that it not only came from cannabis, but contained unusually high levels of THC—the compound that gives cannabis its psychoactive, or mind-altering, qualities.

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence pointing to the use of psychoactive cannabis in ancient Central Asia is purely textual: a section in Herodotus’s Histories about the Scythians, who, after funerals, would “throw the seed … upon the red-hot stones” and “shout for joy” as the vapor rose. But archaeological evidence has been harder to come by.

The team identified the chemical traces clinging to the burners using a technique that articulates a sample’s chemical signature. By vaporizing the sample, separating its components, and recording their differences in mass, researchers can identify the relative levels of the chemicals they’re looking at. “To our excitement, we identified the biomarkers of cannabis,” says Yimin Yang, another co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. And not just cannabis, but a strain bursting with CBN, the compound that forms after THC metabolizes. (These Jirzankal Cemetery samples contained, however, noticeably low levels of CBD—a medicinal, nonpsychoactive compound favored by some cannabis users.) Higher than what are typically found in regional, wild cannabis plants, the CBN levels suggest that the ancient grave keepers deliberately sought out these mind-altering varieties, and potentially even domesticated them.

The German scientist who tested the "cocaine mummies" found marijuana in the hair and lung tissue of the mummies, too, iirc.
Chinese tombs yield earliest evidence of cannabis use

Researchers have uncovered the earliest known evidence of cannabis use, from tombs in western China.

The study suggests cannabis was being smoked at least 2,500 years ago, and that it may have been associated with ritual or religious activities.

Traces of the drug were identified in wooden burners from the burials

The MIA article cited in Rynner's March 28, 2002 post can be accessed via the Wayback Machine.

Here's the text ...
Drug use linked to ancestors' habits

If drugs are so bad for us, why do so many people use them? Because they helped our ancestors survive, argue two anthropologists. ...

Our predilection for psychotropic substances is usually seen as a biological accident. The conventional view is that drugs fool the brain into thinking it is getting a reward when in fact it is not.

But anthropologists Roger Sullivan of the University of Auckland and Edward Hagen of the University of California at Santa Barbara point out that our ancestors were exposed to plants containing narcotic substances for millions of years. In the April issue of Addiction, they argue that we are predisposed to drug-taking because we evolved to seek out plants rich in alkaloids.

Consuming such plants could have been a basic survival strategy. "Stimulant alkaloids like nicotine and cocaine could have been exploited by our human ancestors to help them endure harsh environmental conditions," Sullivan says.

For example, until recently Australian Aborigines used the nicotine-rich plant pituri to help them endure desert travel without food. And Andeans still chew coca leaves to help them work at high altitudes.

Freebasing drugs

Archaeological evidence shows that drug use was widespread in ancient cultures. Betel nut, for example, was chewed at least 13,000 years ago in Timor, to the north of Australia. Artefacts date the use of coca in Ecuador to at least 5000 years ago.

Many of these substances were potent: pituri contains up to five per cent nicotine, whereas tobacco today contains about 1.5 per cent. What is more, these drug pioneers sometimes "freebased" drugs by chewing them together with an alkali such as lime or wood ash. This releases the free form of the drug and allows it to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream.

But in Pacific cultures where chewing betel nut is still widespread, it is seen more as a source of food and energy than as a drug, Sullivan says. And some drugs do have real nutritional value.

For example, 100 grams of coca leaf contains more than the US recommended daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins A, B2 and E.

Larger doses

And in some marginal environments, people's diets may have been so poor that they struggled to produce enough neurotransmitters of their own. Consuming plants containing substances that mimic neurotransmitters could have helped make up for the shortfall, Sullivan and Hagen speculate.

They say this part of their theory could be tested by depriving animals of certain neurotransmitters and seeing if they then choose to eat food rich in substitutes.

Sullivan's adaptive model of drug use is definitely plausible, says Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland, who until recently was head of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney.

"There is certainly evidence that plants evolved to mimic the neurotransmitters of mammals," he says. "But the problem today is that we have much larger doses of much more purified drugs."

SOURCE: https://web.archive.org/web/20030409092430/http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992095
A SMALL POUCH, made from three fox snouts neatly sewn together, may contain the world’s earliest archaeological evidence for the consumption of ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant preparation indigenous to peoples of the Amazon basin that produces potent hallucinations.
Updated to add:

“A 1,000-year-old bundle of drug paraphernalia discovered in southwest Bolivia has been found to contain a truly impressive array of psychotropic substances. On the items in the bundle, researchers have identified traces of tobacco, coca, the raw materials of a psychoactive snuff called vilca or cebil, and Banisteriopsis caapi, which is used to prepare the concoction known as ayahuasca.”


maximus otter
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This discovery in Israel suggests cannabis was being ritually burned as early or earlier than the Asian / Chinese evidence cited earlier in this thread. It's also claimed to represent the first solid evidence of such ancient cannabis usage in the Near East.
New Research Reveals Cannabis on Iron Age Altars at the Judahite Shrine of Biblical Arad

Analysis of the material on two Iron Age altars discovered at the entrance to the “holy of holies” of a shrine at Tel Arad in the Beer-sheba Valley, Israel, were found to contain Cannabis and Frankincense, according to new article in the journal, Tel Aviv.

Past excavations revealed two superimposed fortresses, dated to the 9th to early 6th centuries BCE, which guarded the southern border of biblical Judah. Highly important Iron Age finds were unearthed, including a well-preserved shrine that was dated to ca. 750-715 BCE.

Two limestone altars (the smaller altar is 40 cm high and about 20 × 20 cm at the top; the larger is about 50 cm high and 30 × 30 cm at the top) were found lying at the entrance to the “holy of holies” of the shrine.

Evidently, they had played an important role in the cult practices of the shrine. An unidentified black solidified organic material was preserved on the altars’ surfaces. Past analysis of these materials failed to identify their content and this dark material was recently submitted to organic residue analysis by modern methods.

The study reveals that on the smaller altar cannabis had been mixed with animal dung to facilitate heating, while the larger altar contained traces of frankincense that was mixed with animal fat to promote evaporation.

These unique findings shed new light on cult practices in biblical Judah, suggesting cannabis was used here as a deliberate psychoactive, to stimulate ecstasy as part of cultic ceremonies.

Lead author Eran Arie from The Israel Museum in Jerusalem commented, “This is the first time that cannabis has been identified in the Ancient Near East; Its use in the shrine must have played a central role in the cultic rituals performed there.” ...

FULL STORY: https://scitechdaily.com/new-resear...tars-at-the-judahite-shrine-of-biblical-arad/
The whole tooth about ancient drug use.

Want to know whether an ancient Sogdian smoked cannabis or a Viking got high on henbane?

A new method, which analyzes drug residue in the tartar of teeth, may soon be able to tell. The method, which found drug traces on 19th century skeletons—and more substances than standard blood tests in 10 recently deceased individuals—could trace humanity’s drug habits back hundreds of thousands of years. It’s a “new frontier,” says archaeologist Shannon Tushingham of Washington State University, Pullman, who investigates ancient tobacco use in North America, but was not involved in the new work.

To study the history of medicines and drugs, most scientists scour smoking pipes and drinking vessels for lingering psychoactive molecules. But analysis of drug-coated artifacts often misses substances like hallucinogenic mushrooms that didn’t need containers. And the artifacts don’t reveal who got buzzed.

Archaeologist Bjørn Peare Bartholdy, a doctoral student at Leiden University, suspected farmers in a doctorless 19th century Dutch village may have been self-medicating to manage pain and disease. So he and and supervisor Amanda Henry turned to a new technique: examining the skeletons’ dental calculus, the hardened plaque known as tartar that your dentist scrapes off each year. Tartar traps bits of food, drink, and other substances while a person is living, and it can survive more than 1 million years on fossils. Henry and others have been investigating the crusty stuff for decades, mostly to understand the diets of past peoples. ...

Carbon dating of archaeological finds in Utah indicates prehistoric Americans used tobacco almost 10,000 years earlier than previously believed.
Oldest evidence of humans using tobacco discovered in Utah

Charred seeds found in the Utah desert represent the earliest-known human use of tobacco, evidence that some of the first people to arrive in the Americas used the plant, according to new research. The discovery reveals that humans used tobacco nearly 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, the researchers said.

Of all the intoxicant plants that humans use and abuse, tobacco has arguably had the most critical social and economic impact, the scientists of the new study said. It often played sacred, ceremonial or medical roles among the ancient Maya and other Indigenous American groups, and it helped drive the American colonial economy and thus Western expansion across the New World.

In addition to smoking, chewing and snuffing, people have used tobacco in a variety of different ways over the centuries. For example, ancient Maya rituals may have at times used intoxicating enemas of tobacco-laced fluids, and 18th-century English doctors gave drowning victims enemas of tobacco smoke in attempts to save their lives. ...

Until now, the earliest known evidence of human tobacco use was nicotine found in smoking pipes in Alabama that dated back about 3,300 years, according to research published in 2018 in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Now, scientists have unearthed signs that people used tobacco about 9,000 years earlier than previously thought. ...

In the new study, archaeologists excavated the remains of a hunter-gatherer camp on mud flats in the Great Salt Lake Desert in Utah. ...

The scientists identified an intact ancient fireplace surrounded by stone artifacts, such as spear tips commonly used to hunt large game. ...

The fireplace held pieces of charred willow wood that was probably the best firewood option in the region, as it commonly is now in modern nearby areas. The researchers then analyzed the wood with carbon dating ... ; the results suggested this wood was about 12,300 years old.

Within the fireplace, the scientists found the remains of four charred tobacco seeds. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/earliest-human-tobacco-use-found
Here are the bibliographic details and abstract for the published report on the Utah discoveries.

Duke, D., Wohlgemuth, E., Adams, K.R. et al.
Earliest evidence for human use of tobacco in the Pleistocene Americas.
Nat Hum Behav (2021).

Current archaeological research on cultigens emphasizes the protracted and intimate human interactions with wild species that defined paths to domestication and, with certain plants, profoundly impacted humanity. Tobacco arguably has had more impact on global patterns in history than any other psychoactive substance, but how deep its cultural ties extend has been widely debated. Excavations at the Wishbone site, directed at the hearth-side activities of the early inhabitants of North America’s desert west, have uncovered evidence for human tobacco use approximately 12,300 years ago, 9,000 years earlier than previously documented. Here we detail the preservation context of the site, discuss its cultural affiliation and suggest ways that the tobacco may have been used. The find has implications for our understanding of deep-time human use of intoxicants and its sociocultural intersection with food crop domestication.

SOURCE: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01202-9
(Transplanted from the IgNobel Awards thread)
The Ig Nobels, 2022:

Art History Prize

Citation: "Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth, for their study 'A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery.'" ...
That Mayan enema article points to another article about hallucinogenic water lillies. I find that fascinating:

Transcultural use of narcotic water lilies in ancient Egyptian and Maya drug ritual​

W A Emboden. J Ethnopharmacol. 1981 Jan.


Comparisons are made between ancient ritual uses of the flowers of Nymphaea (Nymphaeaceae) in Maya and Egyptian civilizations. Recurrent motifs encountered in the art of both of these ancient civilizations suggests that the role fo the water lily was that of a narcotic (psychodysleptic) used to mediate ecstasis among a priestly caste. Relevant literature is reviewed as are chemical data. Elements in the complex belief systems of these two civilizations need to be reinterpreted in view of the use of two water lilies as ritual narcotics. The species implicated are Nymphaea caerulea Sav., in Egypt, and N. ampla DC., among the Maya.

(SOURCE: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7007741/)
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The recently discovered evidence for Late Bronze Age opium usage among Canaanites is claimed to represent the earliest known opioid usage.
Scientists discover earliest remnants of opium use

Scientists have discovered the earliest-known residue of opioids, according to research conducted at the University of Tel Aviv ...

Researchers found the residue in ceramic vessels discovered at Tel Yehud, a city in the Central District of Israel. ...

Scientists found the opium residue inside Canaanite graves, which date back to the 14th century B.C. Researchers believe the drug was used in local burial rituals. ...

An organic residue analysis confirmed long-held theories about the opium use. The eight antique vessels it was found inside are similar in shape to the poppy flower.

"This is the only psychoactive drug that has been found in the Levant in the Late Bronze Age. In 2020, researchers discovered cannabis residue on an altar in Tel Arad, but this dated back to the Iron Age, hundreds of years after the opium in Tel Yehud," Tel Aviv University lead researcher Vanessa Linares said in a statement.

"Because the opium was found at a burial site, it offers us a rare glimpse into the burial customs of the ancient world. Of course, we do not know what the opium's role was in the ceremony -- whether the Canaanites in Yehud believed that the dead would need opium in the afterlife, or whether it was the priests who consumed the drug for the purposes of the ceremony." ...

There are a number of theories as to the exact use of the drug during burial procedures.

"It may be that during these ceremonies, conducted by family members or by a priest on their behalf, participants attempted to raise the spirits of their dead relatives in order to express a request, and would enter an ecstatic state by using opium," Israel Antiquities Authority faculty member Ron Be'eri said ...

"Alternatively, it is possible that the opium, which was placed next to the body, was intended to help the person's spirit rise from the grave in preparation for the meeting with their relatives in the next life." ...

Linares, whose doctoral thesis led to the discovery, said it also lends more insight into the use of the drug outside of burials.

"The discovery sheds light on the opium trade in general. One must remember that opium is produced from poppies, which grew in Asia Minor -- that is, in the territory of current-day Turkey -- whereas the pottery in which we identified the opium were made in Cyprus. In other words, the opium was brought to Yehud from Turkey, through Cyprus," she said in a statement.
FULL STORY: https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2022/09/20/earliest-ever-recorded-opium-use-graves/4611663690446/
The oldest direct evidence of hallucinogenic drug use in Europe. Atropine and scopolamine and ephedrine traces were found.


People were getting high on hallucinogenic drugs in Spain around 3,000 years ago, according to new research.

Scientists say that hair from a burial site in Menorca shows that ancient human civilisations used drugs derived from plants and bushes.

It is believed to be Europe's oldest direct evidence of people taking hallucinogenic drugs.

They would have induced delirium and hallucinations, researchers found.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed signs of human activity at the Es Càrritx cave, on the south-western side of Menorca.

The cave houses more than 200 human graves, and is believed to have served as a ritual and funerary site for about 600 years, until 800BCE.

Researchers found that the substances, which had the potential to be quite strong, may have been used as part of rituals held at the cave. These may have involved shamans "who were capable of controlling the side-effects of the plant drugs".

Analysis of the locks, which had been dyed red during the ancient rituals and could have come from more than one person, detected three psychoactive substances.

Along with atropine and scopolamine, which induce hallucinations, scientists found ephedrine, which boosts energy and alertness.

Researchers also noted that containers were found in the cave with spiral motifs carved on the lids. Some scholars, the report said, have considered this to represent a person's "altered states of consciousness" while under the influence of hallucinogens. ...

Our ancestors were drugged-out hippies? Who'd have guessed it?
Henbane used for medicinal purposes by Romans, they didn't smoke it in crack pipes.

A team of archaeologists led by Dr. Maaike Groot from Freie Universität Berlin has provided the first firm evidence that the Romans deliberately collected and used the poisonous seeds of the black henbane plant.

The team analyzed seeds found in a hollowed bone discovered at the Roman-period settlement of Houten-Castellum in the Netherlands and compared them to other archaeological occurrences of the plant. The results of the study were published in the journal Antiquity.

The team's findings support the accounts of classical writers such as Pliny the Elder, who discuss the plant's medical applications as a remedy for ailments, including fever, cough and pain. "Our results indicate that Roman medical practices even extended to rural communities on the Empire's periphery," explains Groot.

Previous research suggests that the bone may have been a pipe used to smoke henbane, as the seeds are also known to produce hallucinogenic effects. However, these seeds were not singed in any way, and there was a lack of evidence for burning on the pipe. Furthermore, it would have been deadly to smoke the hundreds of seeds stored within the pipe, implying that it was instead a container for storing the seeds.

"Since black henbane can grow naturally in and around settlements, its seeds can end up in archaeological sites simply by chance. This makes it difficult to prove if it was used intentionally by humans—whether medicinally or recreationally," says Groot. "The fact that, in our case, the seeds were found inside a hollowed-out sheep or goat bone sealed with a black birch-bark tar plug indicates that the henbane was stored there intentionally, and it was not used for smoking." ...

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1,000-year-old vessels found in Guatemala held tobacco possibly used as 'narcotics to induce deep sleep, visions and divinatory trances'

Residue on pre-Hispanic ceramic vases unearthed in Guatemala contain traces of nicotine, a new chemical analysis reveals.

Archaeologists discovered the pottery collection at the archaeological site of Cotzumalhuapa, which served as one of Mesoamerica's "greatest cities" during the Late Classic Period (A.D. 650 to 950).

While early colonial accounts and past studies have confirmed that tobacco use occurred in Mesoamerica, there had been little physical evidence of the practice until now.


For the study, the archaeologists analyzed vases found near the acropolis of El Baúl in Cotzumalhuapa in 2006 and 2007. They chemically tested samples scraped from the insides of seven vases, and three came back positive for traces of tobacco. Researchers were surprised by the results, since the tall, narrow shape of the vessels was similar to those typically used to hold liquids. This could mean that instead of being "smoked as a dried leaf or sniffed in powder form," the tobacco "may also have been consumed as a liquid infusion.”

The ceramic vessels were found near the remains of sweat baths at Cotzumalhuapa, which is further evidence that the tobacco infusions may have been used in purification rituals.


maximus otter