Stone Age man took drugs, say scientists

By Desertfox · Jun 18, 2009 · ·
  1. Desertfox
    [h1]Stone Age man took drugs, say scientists [/h1]
    [h2]Scientists have discovered evidence suggesting Stone Age man used herbal mixtures to get high. [/h2]

    By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
    Published: 12:50AM BST 19 Oct 2008

    Stone Age man as seen in the BBC series Walking With Cavemen


    It has long been suspected that humans have an ancient history of drug use, but there has been a lack of proof to support the theory.
    Now, however, researchers have found equipment used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sniffing, and dated them back to prehistoric South American tribes.

    Quetta Kaye, of University College London, and Scott Fitzpatrick, an archeologist from North Carolina State University, made the breakthrough on the Caribbean island of Carriacou.
    They found ceramic bowls, as well as tubes for inhaling drug fumes or powders, which appear to have originated in South America between 100BC and 400BC and were then carried 400 miles to the islands.
    While the use of such paraphernalia for inhaling drugs is well-known, the age of the bowls has thrown new light on how long humans have been taking drugs.

    Scientists believe that the drug being used was cohoba, a hallucinogen made from the beans of a mimosa species. Drugs such as cannabis were not found in the Caribbean then.
    Opiates can be obtained from species such as poppies, while fungi, which was widespread, may also have been used.
    Archeologists have suggested that humans were extracting mind-expanding drugs from mescal beans and peyote cacti as far back as 5,000 years ago, but have not found direct evidence that this is true.
    They consider that drugs were being used to induce spiritual or trance-like states by people who had religious beliefs.

    And the stoned ape theory of Terence McKenna's gets a little more plausible...

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  1. corvardus
    SWIM is not surprised in the least about this. SWIM's limited experience have opened a whole new way of looking at the world. SWIM used to be depressive most of the time for a greater part of a decade, yet exploration of entheogens and partaking of some of their members have given me a whole new mental lease on life.

    It is amazing how a single profound experience can do this. Of course my interest lies primarily in entheogens only. Those who partook of it would be experiencing what they might consider the divine.

    It is probably likely that these substances were used in ritual context rather than recreationally, but SWIM might be mistaken in this, SWIM doesn't think there is any way to know for sure.

    SWIM can most definitely appreciate how scientifically uneducated peoples could take a change in consciousness as something exceedingly profound and intensely personal and seek to share the experience with others.
  2. Motorhead
    This is interesting stuff regarding the history of drug use, to bad this article is so poorly written.

    The title and picture provided seem to suggest that Cavemen were using drugs and preparing them in ceramic bowls for religious purposes. Yet the article tells of a dig in South America that discovered artifacts from roughly 100-400 BC. Although historians will tell you that the stone-age continued in the Americas until the arrival of Europeans, there certainly no cavemen in South America at the time. There were actually many different fully developed cultures. The article doesn't even tell us which tribe was utilizing these tools.

    Why mention that Cannabis wasn't found in the region at the time? And then to tell us there is no direct evidence that people were using drugs 5000 years ago anyways, and put a picture of a Caveman in the article!?

    Like I said, interesting stuff and maybe I'm nitpicking but the article is a little misleading methinks. Perhaps if the archeologists produce a paper themselves it will provide more insight.
  3. corvardus
    It took a bit of sleuthing to find but the author did make a paper about drug paraphernalia in the West Indies, so perhaps this is what the article was referring to?

    The link is ►here◄ for SWIY to have a look at.
  4. Motorhead
    Excellent find Smithers. Must be the research Mr. Wynne-Jones was writing about, the work of Scott Fitzpatrick.
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