The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

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greatbuddha
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The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by greatbuddha » Sat 15 Jun 2013, 05:14

Apparently finding cocaine and nicotine in egyptian mummies is a little known but fairly widespread thing (Nicotine and Cocaine are America exclusive drugs). Here's the link
http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/ethnic/mummy.htm
The link adresses such criticism such as
-the mummies are fake
or
-the mummies were exhumed by crackheads
or
-the compounds were created by natural processes in decomposition

so don't be posting that kind of criticism, cause then I'll know you didn't actually read the link.
The authors state that the main reason these studies are ignored is because of cries of
"that's impossible!'
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by MrKrov » Sat 15 Jun 2013, 07:40

I'm simply going to say it's absurd the only thing traded was drug plants and only one way and no records were made by any parties involved.
I lied a bit: it's just as possible the plants the coke and nicotine were made from were in Africa and have since gone extinct.
I lied a bit more: there's totally Old World plants with varying degrees of nicotine, like Nicotiana Africana.
I lied a bit more again: (Some of the) Erythroxylum species (the coke-maker plants) are native to Africa.
I've done this joke about being a perpetual liar before: I distrust any fringe theory that even vaguely hints at a persecution complex.
I'm sure there's someone on the board that's much more knowledgeable and cares much more about this than me is going to come along and lay some genuine smack down.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by greatbuddha » Sat 15 Jun 2013, 14:42

I looked up erythroxylum manii- the african species I think you were talking about, and it makes zero mention of cocaine producing ability.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 15 Jun 2013, 17:39

Apparently at least one study showed cocaine in about half the new-world species but none of the old-world species (of erythroxylum). However, they only tested a few dozen out of the more than 200 erythroxylums known.

Even if we can believe the findings (which we shouldn't - and no, a website that goes on to cite research denouncing modern 'afrocentricity' and bewailing the way that people just don't realise that african civilisation is derived from the olmecs does NOT convince me), the chances of some erythroxylum (or other species) in the old world now or in the past containing traces of cocaine is FAR far higher than the chances of intercontinental trade between ancient Egypt (whose boats could barely make it up the Nile and for whom the sail was a recent invention) and the Americas (who wouldn't develop any archeologically discoverable signs of civilisation until thousands of years later).
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by greatbuddha » Sat 15 Jun 2013, 18:48

any archeologically discoverable signs of civilisation until thousands of years later).[/quote]
so norte chico just doesn't exist in your book?
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norte_Chico_civilization

you have a point about the african erythroxylum species, but there was no reason to add a bs claim like that to the end of your post. The andes have held civilization for a while.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Torco » Wed 19 Jun 2013, 07:50

Well it might be that the egiptians had those plants! doesn't seem likely, but as we're at it its well-known that very primitive peoples *can* use boats to cross the pacific: hell, check out Easter Island <and sure, these guys really knew how to make straw boats: BUT THEY STILL WERE STRAW BOATS>. What they often cannot is keep any sort of consistent back-and-forth trading routes because, well, those travels are tough and unprofitable. However some transpacific trade might have happened from time to time. Sure, the egyptians sure didn't get to the americas, they were in the mediterranean and as Sal points out had really shitty boats, but maybe the chinese or whoever lived in russia at the time went and did a few forays, bringing back a bunch of delicious smokable leaf or something. I think its often forgotten, or ignored, that ancient peoples *did* have a lot of global, or at least really long range trade: pontus to china, scandinavia to egypt, spain to africa, valuable shit had a way to go from here to there, and given how huge "antiquity" is as far as time periods go, it had a lot of time to do so in an occasional basis. This is, it shouldn't surprise anyone that, say, some ancient egiptian king <extremely wealthy people, mind you> had a nice jacket made out of chinese silk, or an exceptionally pretty fork originally carved by a spanish widow, or a novelty winter jacket of the kind the dudes in siberia made: globalization isn't such an extremely new phenomenon. Surely there were no consistent trade flows from one end of eurasia to the other, or from cape town to amsterdam, but a few particular items might have well made its way from here to there.

Consider that america might have been discovered and forgotten god knows how many times: everyone was illiterate, poor, and death was never far in ancient times, and sure, its a big deal if a rennaisance monarch-funded expedition finds some new land, but what happens if some vikings find vindland? nothing happens, they try to settle there and eventually all die or become assimilated into the population. And viking were relatively advanced! What happens when a fisherman from vladivostok gets lost and finds labrador? well, not a lot, maybe the king hears, but the king is some smalltime warlord from beyond china, illiterate and most likely not really powerful: his son decides to go seek glory in this fabled land, and comes back after a couple years and half his mates dead with... leaves and seeds of wonderful medicinal plants. But how is the prince gonna tell anyone how to get to the fabled land? he can't write, he knows nothing of maps and coordinates. is anyone else gonna go there? not really. soon its all legend, the prince dies, and the quaint folk of the town tell of the brave prince who got to the wonderful land of blapibu or whatever and brought back medicine he stole from some dragon, or hydra, or some shit like that. a local shaman figures out how to grow the plants and grows some before dying that day when the town next hill over decided to kill those bastards for not praying with their left hand in their cheek or some bullshit religious dispute and some of his produce finds its way into the hands of some chinese merchant who was, opportunely enough, on his way to egypt. i'm not saying it happened, but its perfectly possible, if unlikely, that it did. Still, one in a million chances *do* happen... and really often, at that.

but yeah, the site doesn't look extremely trustworthy so i wouldn't be all omgpharaosdidcokeomg
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Salmoneus » Wed 19 Jun 2013, 12:39

greatbuddha wrote:any archeologically discoverable signs of civilisation until thousands of years later).
so norte chico just doesn't exist in your book?
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norte_Chico_civilization

you have a point about the african erythroxylum species, but there was no reason to add a bs claim like that to the end of your post. The andes have held civilization for a while.[/quote]

First off, Norte Chico isn't in the Andes.

Second, Norte Chico isn't in an area that could feasibly trade with Egypt. Trading with Olmecs is one thing, but Caral is on the far side of the Andes on the far side of the Amazon on the far side of the Atlantic on the far side of Africa from Egypt.

Third - oh come off it. The research on Norte Chico is minimal, and often dubious, making hyperbolic claims based on little, contested, and secret evidence, with the headline-grabbing stuff left out of peer-reviewed journals. And what does it actually show? A relatively dense population with some monumental earthworks and some primitive irrigation systems. By this definition, large parts of Eurasia have been 'civilised' since immediately after the Ice Age! Caral is the centre of a great civilisation because they built mounds 18m high? In Britain, they'd already built a mound 40m high before Caral was even settled! Caral does not, on the other hand, show any evidence of metalworking, of pottery, of public art, of military organisation, or of writing. Just earth, stone, carved bones, and some textiles. In particular, the researchers take the most 'civilised' part of their civilisation, maybe around 2000BC, and then project back a thousand or two thousand years to the earliest finds they've got from the region. But even if we believe that classical Caral was 'civilised', that doesn't mean that the people living in that area two thousand years before were 'civilised'.

Fourth - well to be honest I thought the Caral controversy was pretty irrelevent, since Egypt was thousands of years older than Caral anyway. However, I see that mummies were a later development than I'd thought, and we've no idea where or when these particular mummies come from anyway, so OK, they could have been contemporaneous with Caral. Or they could be a thousand years older, or four thousand years later. [In fact, shouldn't the complete and utter lack of provenance concerning these mummies of 'unknown origin' really be the end of the matter anyway?]

Torco: oh boy. not even going to start in on that one.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by greatbuddha » Thu 20 Jun 2013, 04:14

The norte chico had cities as large as 3000 (and a picture of the site of the city is in the link so don't claim it's BS)
http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ ... merica.htm
I believe permanently inhabited cities are considered the cornerstone of civilization, no?
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by nmn » Thu 20 Jun 2013, 13:02

Is it only me or that site states that all ancient civilizations were black?
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Lambuzhao » Thu 20 Jun 2013, 14:38

An interesting theory...

Sorry if I jump around a bit from the archaeological to the botanical in my response.

Erythroxylon coca was originally a wet-tropical plant. The cultivars used in domestication were more or less warm temperate, montane. There is evidence of coca-chewing as far back as 4,000 years ago in Chile (Arriba, Torco!). Varieties for more arid, hot-tropical cultivation were developed in Trujillo, Peru and in Colombia. If those cultivars existed during Ancient Egyptian times, it could be possible that the originally cloud-forest loving coca plant would have survived cultivation in the hot, arid, flat sunny Egyptian topography. Nonetheless, it would make more sense if the Egyptians independently domesticated their own cocaine-bearing plant.

It is possible the Ancient Egyptians used some form of nightshade (Solanum dulcamara/nigrum) which is closely related to Tobacco (Solanum nicotiniana). Maybe as an embalming drug, or a hallucinogen (Belladonna). According to botanical literature, Nightshade contains substantially less nicotine than domesticated tobacco.

An interesting point of comparison is the humble cotton plant (Gossypium spp). It was domesticated independently in both the Old and New World, and universally well known. I do not see how a plant that could contain stimulants like nicotine or cocaine would've escaped the radar of history. According to the study, the persons in question consumed these substances, and did so repeatedly, in order for the concentrations to have existed in their hair, etc.

I will briefly touch upon travel & transport issues. Thor Heyerdahl did an admirable job of proving the possibility, albeit slim and undocumented, of trans-Atlantic navigation. His ships (RA I, II) barely survived the trip one-way, though. No amount of tar and bitumen could hold those humpty-dumpty craft together for any conceivable round-trip, and I think the investment of time and resources using the technology of that time would have made any economic gains out of trans-atlantic reed-boat trade slim to none. And I'm a big fan of reed-boats.

Personally, without seeing the mummies, without reading any mention of "carbon-dating", I think these artifacts happen to be hoaxes. Ether that, or, possibly possibly the Ancient Egyptians independently discovered botanical analogues which yielded those same substances (based on the multiple-domestication of cotton).

An interesting thought-experiment, though.

Viz./Google:

Larry W. Cartmell, & al. The Frequency and Antiquity of Prehistoric Coca-Leaf-Chewing Practices in Northern Chile: Radioimmunoassay of a Cocaine Metabolite in Human-Mummy Hair

Helaine Silverman, William Isbell edits., Handbook of South American Archaeology

Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP): Alimentos del mundo andino: Ciclo de conferencias sobre alimentos andinos.

Important, but ungoogleable (as of yet):
Mannliche, Lise (2006) An Ancient Egyptian Herbal
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by greatbuddha » Thu 20 Jun 2013, 18:21

I was thinking if cocaine really was in egypt it was someone accidentally bringing cocaine seeds to africa and succesfully planting them, but never getting them cultivated on a large scale, so the cocaine was mixed up with other recreational drugs (like Hashish).

Oh, sorry about the "native americans were black" website link. The site looked legit for the first few pages until I got to the part where it said "the inca exterminated the black chimú culture" and then veered off into weirdness.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Lambuzhao » Fri 21 Jun 2013, 03:11

Make no mistake,
if someone transported coca plants/seeds into Egypt or Africa,
it certainly was not by accident.
Coca was chewed first and foremost as a stimulant, to make the user work harder longer. Also, coca functions as an appetite suppressant.
It would have had to be actual plants or more likely the seeds that were used, since even as late as the 18th century, shipping practices severely degraded the efficacy of coca leaf as it was transported from South America to Europe.

I think if it were to have been brought across the sea, it would have been to get some increased productivity out of slave labor. A recreational drug? Hardly. Cocaine was not isolated and refined until the 1850s.

But enough devil's advocacy. Coca plants in ancient Africa are most assuredly a hoax. Tobacco's not too far behind.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Yačay256 » Tue 20 Aug 2013, 01:16

Salmoneus wrote:
greatbuddha wrote:any archeologically discoverable signs of civilisation until thousands of years later).
so norte chico just doesn't exist in your book?
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norte_Chico_civilization

you have a point about the african erythroxylum species, but there was no reason to add a bs claim like that to the end of your post. The andes have held civilization for a while.
First off, Norte Chico isn't in the Andes.

Second, Norte Chico isn't in an area that could feasibly trade with Egypt. Trading with Olmecs is one thing, but Caral is on the far side of the Andes on the far side of the Amazon on the far side of the Atlantic on the far side of Africa from Egypt.

Third - oh come off it. The research on Norte Chico is minimal, and often dubious, making hyperbolic claims based on little, contested, and secret evidence, with the headline-grabbing stuff left out of peer-reviewed journals. And what does it actually show? A relatively dense population with some monumental earthworks and some primitive irrigation systems. By this definition, large parts of Eurasia have been 'civilised' since immediately after the Ice Age! Caral is the centre of a great civilisation because they built mounds 18m high? In Britain, they'd already built a mound 40m high before Caral was even settled! Caral does not, on the other hand, show any evidence of metalworking, of pottery, of public art, of military organisation, or of writing. Just earth, stone, carved bones, and some textiles. In particular, the researchers take the most 'civilised' part of their civilisation, maybe around 2000BC, and then project back a thousand or two thousand years to the earliest finds they've got from the region. But even if we believe that classical Caral was 'civilised', that doesn't mean that the people living in that area two thousand years before were 'civilised'.

Fourth - well to be honest I thought the Caral controversy was pretty irrelevent, since Egypt was thousands of years older than Caral anyway. However, I see that mummies were a later development than I'd thought, and we've no idea where or when these particular mummies come from anyway, so OK, they could have been contemporaneous with Caral. Or they could be a thousand years older, or four thousand years later. [In fact, shouldn't the complete and utter lack of provenance concerning these mummies of 'unknown origin' really be the end of the matter anyway?]

Torco: oh boy. not even going to start in on that one.
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1269
No Afrocentric nonsense from UNESCO.
That said, I am pretty (or, basically, COMPLETLEY) certain there was no trade of any sort between Africa and the Americas before the second millenium. Even if one excepts the story of Abu Bakr II as fact (which I find reasonable), the Malians still never returned to Amazonia to trade again, leaving the voyages of Chrisopher Colombus in 1492 the start date of any trade between Africa and the Americas.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by CatDoom » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 09:22

The lack of any lines of evidence aside from drugs in mummies seems conspicuous, too. The Egyptians left a whole lot of writing behind, and while much of it is religious and relatively formulaic, you would think that a fantastically far-off trading partner from whence come wondrous and otherwise unknown drugs would merit a mention somewhere. One might also expect to find depictions of cocaine or tobacco use in artwork.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Shrdlu » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 14:04

Nobody has thought about that the drugs could have come from an now extinct plant, maybe an hybrid of some sort.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Lambuzhao » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 17:13

Shrdlu wrote:Nobody has thought about that the drugs could have come from an now extinct plant, maybe an hybrid of some sort.

Interesting point. You refer to some common then (but now extinct) plant like Silphium/laserpicium? Are there any others that could be likely candidates?
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Lambuzhao » Sun 20 Oct 2013, 17:18

CatDoom wrote:The Egyptians left a whole lot of writing behind, and while much of it is religious and relatively formulaic, you would think that a fantastically far-off trading partner from whence come wondrous and otherwise unknown drugs would merit a mention somewhere.
These would be likely places:

The Ebers Medical Papyrus (Egyptian. Though somewhat formulaic, absolutely NOT religious in nature!)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebers_Papy ... chre_clays

Theophrastos, Enquiry into Plants & On the Causes of Plants (Greek)
Pedanius Dioscurides, Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς, De Materia Medica (Greek)
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Kungavmorka » Tue 02 Dec 2014, 09:56

Very very possible. Many of you clearly never saw the movie "kon tiki" which was based off of a true story where a scientist wanted to prove that native americans actually sailed across the pacific ocean and colonized polynesia. The scientist built a balsa wood raft and used the ocean currents from south america, peru, to sling shot him to polynesia using only technology that the natives had. Turns out it was not only possible but the archeological evidence existed to support it. So could the native americans manage to make it across the pacific ocean? Definitely. Did they manage to bring cocain? Yes and no. They couldn't process it so no, but they could bring the leaves to chew on, which is likely since it is addictive. Did they make it there before or during the time of ancient Egypt? possibly. Did they trade with ancient egypt? Maybe. They could have hopped along the silk road or traded with silk merchants and the merchants could have taken it to africa, and from africa to egypt? Maybe. Speculative, but definitely a real possibility exists. As far as tobacco, i have no idea. Native americans in the north would have had a pretty hard time sailing across the atlantic or the pacific and tobacco grows in the north mainly (i may be mistaken, i'm not exactly a botanical expert). I have not read the website. Its more than likely fake if its the only source claiming so. But the topic is very interesting. Oh and shout out to y'all (yes, i'm from texas) who say its impossible: nothing is impossible and its already been proven that the natives could have sailed to asia. I also like how everyone assumes the travel must have taken place over the atlantic (and it very well could have) when the pacific was much more logical if you looked at ocean currents. I would also like to note that south american civilization did not develop until later in history, closer to the time of the first moon landing than ancient egypt, but then again, you don't have to have a civilization to build a boat and have a drug addiction.

In conclusion, we really don't know, but what i do know is that they, with 100% confidence, DEFINITELY had marijuana (or better yet, cannabis as the romans called it
Spoiler: show
or ganja if you want to go to india
) so the drug trade definitely took place. Cannabis had definitely been used since the earliest days of Chinese written history and opium, too, existed in asia, however i'm not sure exactly how early it was discovered, but i doubt the Egyptians had any knowledge of it.
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Re: The ancient pre-columbian drug exchange

Post by Kungavmorka » Tue 02 Dec 2014, 22:24

A little more research yielded some very.. Bazaar results. To start a wikipedia article on the pre-columbian travel depicts kon tiki (as i referenced earlier) and gives some skeptics view points as well, attempting to dismiss the occurences, nevertheless possible.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Colu ... ic_contact

This second article (which i remain skeptical of myself, but is worth mentioning):
http://www.cracked.com/article_19769_5- ... wrong.html

This article simply restates the occurance, however it is another source confirming that it is not a made up story by one prankster with a blog:

http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf111/sf111p01.htm

This article, however, confirms the finded was not fake:
http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-his ... rld-001025

Now this is the extent of research i have done, there may be more, but this os just simply something to sink your teeth into.
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