Egyptian mummies found with cocaine

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Main Question or Discussion Point

http://www.springerlink.com/content/r45155796wlq5176/

Abstract Data are presented on the biochemical findings in several intermal organs from an Egyptian mummy with a 14C-dating of approximately 950 B.C. By use of radio immunoassay systems and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, significant amounts of various drugs were detected in internal organs (lung, liver, stomach, intestines) as well as in hair, bone, skin/muscle and tendon. These analyses revealed a significant deposition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nicotine (and its metabolite cotinine) and cocaine in the tissue from the mummy. The concentration profiles additionally provide evidence for the preferential ways of consumption: Thus, the highest levels of THC in lung specimens point to an inhalation of this drug -- as it has been assumed from known ritual smoking ceremonies --, while nicotine and cocaine containing drugs showed their highest concentrations in the intestines and liver, so that they seem to have been consumed perorally. Furthermore, a histopathological examination of the internal organ tissues revealed some evidence for the underlying disease and the probable cause of death. Thus, a severe and presumably recurrent intravital pulmonary bleeding, most obviously due to a parasitosis affecting the lung, was observed.



I thought cocaine was indigenous to South America? How did it make its way to Africa?
 

Answers and Replies

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Those darn aliens...who knew THEY were the original drug smugglers?

It is perplexing.
 
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lol, they build damn pyramids. Why couldn't they sail to america?
 
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gravenworld, if you go to your link you'll see where you can view the first page of the article. There is a sentences in the introduction which I can construe by confirmation bias as a hint that they are considering this as evidence of old world/new world contact far before current estimates, though they don't explicitly say so:

"Hence we have provided circumstantial evidence that some drugs had already been consumed in historic populations."

Makes the coincidence of Egyptian and South American Pyramid architecture seem not so coincidental.

Still, maybe there is a native Egyptian source for the same drugs?
 
  • #6
Evo
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No opiates were found? Seems odd since Egyptians were known to use opium.
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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Tobacco is native to the Americas also. Are there other plants containing nicotine?
I think most dark, leafy greens have nicotine in them.

How can you test positive for THC but not for opiates? I thought pot was an opiate?
 
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I think most dark, leafy greens have nicotine in them.

How can you test positive for THC but not for opiates? I thought pot was an opiate?
THC is not an opiate.
 
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Facial features found on statues of pre-Columbian Olmec civilization in South America closely resemble that of native Africans, where as facial features of Mayan or Aztec is totally different. So it's entirely possible, they could have sailed from Africa to South America thousand years before the vikings or Columbus.
 
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Facial features found on statues of pre-Columbian Olmec civilization in South America closely resemble that of native Africans, where as facial features of Mayan or Aztec is totally different. So it's entirely possible, they could have sailed from Africa to South America thousand years before the vikings or Columbus.
stone%20head%20in%20Xalapa%20540x405.jpg


In addition to Kon Tiki, you may know Thor Heyerdahl did and experimental voyage from Egypt to South America in a reed boat. As I recall, it didn't quite make it, but came close enough that it was completely feasible that, with some improved engineering such a voyage was realistic.
 
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In addition to Kon Tiki, you may know Thor Heyerdahl did and experimental voyage from Egypt to South America in a reed boat. As I recall, it didn't quite make it, but came close enough that it was completely feasible that, with some improved engineering such a voyage was realistic.
I think I saw that on the History channel, but didn't remember if he made it.

If the ancient explorers had a capability to sail back and forth between the continents to trade, they must have been a sufficient sea faring civilization back in Africa. The only empires at the time were the Egyptians and Nubians to the south of Egypt. But I guess archaeologists haven't found more evidence to prove where they originated.
 
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stone%20head%20in%20Xalapa%20540x405.jpg


In addition to Kon Tiki, you may know Thor Heyerdahl did and experimental voyage from Egypt to South America in a reed boat. As I recall, it didn't quite make it, but came close enough that it was completely feasible that, with some improved engineering such a voyage was realistic.
in addition, i've seen plenty of southeast asians with features i'd characterize as "african". and some of the south pacific islanders were expert sailors.

i'm pretty sure that tobacco in mummies is really old news. first i've heard of cocaine. but the existence of pyramids in south america makes it easy to believe there was cultural contact and trade during the time of the pharaohs. also, the americas are sometimes speculated as the source of the Atlantis legend, and there is some evidence that fairly sophisticated civilizations existed long before european settlers arrived.
 
  • #14
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Funny. Elsewhere on PF there is a new thread on necromancing old threads. This is another new thread that is necromancing an old (widely regarded as) crackpot ideas.

Article said:
Volume 352, Numbers 3-4 / January, 1995
 
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in addition, i've seen plenty of southeast asians with features i'd characterize as "african". and some of the south pacific islanders were expert sailors.
This statue could be of a pacific islander, yes.

i'm pretty sure that tobacco in mummies is really old news. first i've heard of cocaine. but the existence of pyramids in south america makes it easy to believe there was cultural contact and trade during the time of the pharaohs. also, the americas are sometimes speculated as the source of the Atlantis legend, and there is some evidence that fairly sophisticated civilizations existed long before european settlers arrived.
Since Atlantis sunk I find any above sea level land not to be credible as the source of the legend.

Do you mean tobacco or nicotine in mummies is old news?
 
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Funny. Elsewhere on PF there is a new thread on necromancing old threads. This is another new thread that is necromancing an old (widely regarded as) crackpot ideas.
Necromancing and mummies. Where's the surprise?
 
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Since Atlantis sunk I find any above sea level land not to be credible as the source of the legend.
you are right, it could be completely false. or sinking could be a metaphor. or atlantis could be something else altogether.

Do you mean tobacco or nicotine in mummies is old news?
i just have an old faded memory. i remember it being presented as tobacco, but that could simply be someone else's overeagerness to see nicotine as tobacco.
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking
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Wikipedia says it's just the nightshades, but that's a very large family:
Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae), predominantly in tobacco, and in lower quantities in tomato, potato, eggplant (aubergine), and green pepper... Nicotine alkaloids are also found in the leaves of the coca plant.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/n/nicotine.htm

I was looking around and found other people asking if it was true that dark leafy greens contain nicotine. What motivated my comment was a news report that specifically addressed this issue, so, dunno; doesn't seem to be true.
 
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http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/n/nicotine.htm

I was looking around and found other people asking if it was true that dark leafy greens contain nicotine. What motivated my comment was a news report that specifically addressed this issue, so, dunno; doesn't seem to be true.
Regardless, your quote indicates that both the cocaine and nicotine could have come from the same plant source.
 
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And I thought that the world's leaders didn't start doing coke until the latter 20th century, how naive of me!
 
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No opiates were found? Seems odd since Egyptians were known to use opium.
True... But think about it. A few mummies out of probably a few million Egyptians, not all of them are going to have opiates. America is known for cocaine, but not everyone in America is going to have traces of cocaine.

Opium, I'm assuming, because of it's nature and the effect the drug has was probably used for more ceremonial events or special occassions as opposed to everyday use.
 
  • #22
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True... But think about it. A few mummies out of probably a few million Egyptians, not all of them are going to have opiates. America is known for cocaine, but not everyone in America is going to have traces of cocaine.

Opium, I'm assuming, because of it's nature and the effect the drug has was probably used for more ceremonial events or special occassions as opposed to everyday use.
Yes, but it also has medicinal use. As one criticism of the paper pointed out, if the use of coca was so common as to be found in all 9 of a random sampling of 9 mummies from ~ 1,000 BC to 300 BC, it is more likely that the samples were contaminated, or the mummies aren't authentic, wouldn't be the first time museums were victims of hoaxes. Why would Egyptians show poppy seeds and lotus plants and no pictures of coca plants or leaves?
 
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Yes, but it also has medicinal use. As one criticism of the paper pointed out, if the use of coca was so common as to be found in all 9 of a random sampling of 9 mummies from ~ 1,000 BC to 300 BC, it is more likely that the samples were contaminated, or the mummies aren't authentic, wouldn't be the first time museums were victims of hoaxes. Why would Egyptians show poppy seeds and lotus plants and no pictures of coca plants or leaves?
I think that all coco leaves would have to have been carried by boat back to Egypt in some sort of dried or preserved state. They wouldn't grow in Egypt: wrong climate. No fresh leaves or whole growing plants to figure in art. They would be only for the rich and powerful, and might only be prescribed during serious illness. By this logic we'd see them in every mummy that died from illness, but not in those whose death was sudden.
 
  • #24
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I think that all coco leaves would have to have been carried by boat back to Egypt in some sort of dried or preserved state. They wouldn't grow in Egypt: wrong climate. No fresh leaves or whole growing plants to figure in art. They would be only for the rich and powerful, and might only be prescribed during serious illness. By this logic we'd see them in every mummy that died from illness, but not in those whose death was sudden.
My thoughts also, but there would be some record of it. We know of the spices, medicinal herbs, even the makeup they wore. It was customary to have anything the person might need in the after life buried with them, surely something that was so common as to be found in 100% of the mummies tested over such a supposed period of time would have been found. Also, if there was continuous trade between South America and Africa, one would think that there would have been a record of it.
 
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My thoughts also, but there would be some record of it. We know of the spices, medicinal herbs, even the makeup they wore. It was customary to have anything the person might need in the after life buried with them, surely something that was so common as to be found in 100% of the mummies tested over such a supposed period of time would have been found. Also, if there was continuous trade between South America and Africa, one would think that there would have been a record of it.
Yes, if the Egytians made it to the Americas it seems impossible they wouldn't have made a huge deal of recording the fact all over the place.

Only solution left, is that it was some other less literate seafaring culture who made the voyages then traded tho coco to the Egyptians for big bucks. But, of course, I'm just speculating.

Could be what this means is that this manner of testing for chemical compounds is highly flawed.
 

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