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Tobacco and cocaine in Egyptian mummies


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Although it might seem a reasonable deduction, it is by far not the only possible scenario created by the evidence at hand.


Consider the following:


Horses originated in the Americas. They eventually migrated to Eurasia, making their way all the way into Africa. They died out in the New World, however, and the American Indians were quickly overrun by mounted soldiers, riding an animal that finally made it home. They have never seen horses in their lives, and could be excused for assuming that horses originated in the

Old World, where the invaders came from.


They don't seem to consider that tobacco and the coca plant could have had a similar history, growing in the Old World thousands of years ago, but then died off through either overexploitation and bad farming habits, or changing weather patterns, for instance. This is not to say that the trading scenario is impossible, I'm just saying that that particular hypothesis isn't the only one to explain what caused the tobacco and cocaine residue in those mummies.

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Do findings of tobacco and cocaine in ancient mummies in Egypt indicate pacific trade routes to America? It would seem so since these plants were only known to grow in the Americas before Columbus. Or, is there a different explanation? What do you think?


Here’s an article about the findings:

Were the Pharoahs junkies

I saw this programme and it stunned me.

It might be that nicotine can possibly be found in some African platns. (rarely)

But cocaine is a different story. It has to have come from S.America.

But HOW????

The pacific was very pacific (ie., peaceful) as far as we know for many centuries

(NZ was populated by bad cricketers and rugby players at this time:))


But we are talking what 4-5,000 years with cocaine traces in mummies.??


A fascinating mystery.

What is the answer?


It is interesting that early botanists called habanero chillies "Chinesenus" as they found them in China Yet they are native to S America/central America.


((There is a suburb book on this called "The Fragrant Chillli" which everyone should buy)

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I had never heard of cocaine/tobacco in Egyptian mummies until reading this thread. So Google was opened....



The Bay of Jars is only one of several oddities claimed as evidence of trans-atlantic contacts. Also in Brazil, there is an inscription said to be in an ancient Mediterranean language. Meanwhile, in Mexico, there are 3,000 year old figurines with beards, a feature unknown in native Americans plus colossal statues that are said to look African, and an apparent picture of a pineapple - an American fruit - has been found in Pompeii.


But if tobacco from Mexico or coca from the Andes was carried across an ocean, it apparently need not have been the Atlantic. According to Alice Kehoe, a number of other American plants mysteriously turn up outside the "sealed" continent. But they are found on the other side of the Pacific.


PROF ALICE KEHOE - Anthropologist, Marquette University:

"The one that absolutely proves trans-pacific vaoyaging is the sweet potato. There are also discoveries of peanuts more than 2,000 years ago in western China. There is a temple is southern India that has sculptures of goddesses holding what looks like ears of maize or corn."



And if American maize might have got as far as India, why couldn't tobacco or coca have reached Egypt? They could have come across the Pacific to China or Asia and then overland to Africa. The Egyptians need not have travelled to America at all, or known where the plants had originated, but could have got them indirectly, through a network of world trade. But any ancient trade route that includes America is unacceptable in archeology.


Mystery of the Cocaine Mummies - transcript of the video

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  • 1 month later...

The link leads to an excellent article! Great work! I am at a loss to figure out why it would be disputed. The priests and rich who were embalmed lived a life of luxury. They had addictions. That is not hard to believe! Just look are our own society. We have it just as soft as they had in Egypt, those in the upper classes late in the civilizations long rise AND FALL.


There are a host of parallels in the past civilizations. We can learn what happens to them. We can place ourselves this way and get a better idea of what lies ahead. . .

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I saw the progamme and thought she made an excellent case


then there are plants in Africa that may contain Nicotine. Equisetum arvense for example has a small amount. It likes damp places so could have grown on the banks of the nile? God know waht use it would have in the mummification process. It was used for cleaning metal.

Wiki says

The plant contains several chemicals which can be used medicinally. It is rich in the minerals silicon (10%), potassium, and calcium, which gives it diuretic properties. It is prescribed to care for conjunctive tissues (cartilage, tendons, and bones) and also polyps, epistasis, and bleeding. The buds are eaten as a vegetable in Japan in spring time.


It was also once used to polish pewter and wood (gaining the name pewterwort) and to strengthen fingernails.


In herbalism it used to treat kidney and bladder problems, gastro-enteritis, and prostate and urinary infections. Externally it is used for chilblains and wounds.[1]


traces of cocaine can be found on bank notes

However the cocaine part of the programme's story/argument is stronger I think.

If there had been a plant that acted like cocaine in the Western Hemisphere humans would have found it!

Unfortunately I can't find an on-line data base that would tell me what other plants contain benzoylmethyl ecgonine the "active ingredient" (sic) of coca

Still a fascinating hypothesis

We await more discoveries.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I saw the BBC programme on Captain Cook last week and it made me think of this thread


Cook had a Tahitian priest accompany him on his 'first' voyage in the Pacific Ocean.

The priest gave Cook a very detailed map of the Pacific

From this map Cook was able to discover many Pacific Islands- some many thousands of miles apart!.


Also they talked about the disease he bought to the Indians of the Canadian Coast on his last voyage.

But were Pacific Island Nations immune to at least some extent????

If so does this mean there was previous "western" contact?


No mention is made of disease in the Pacific.

Yet the Spaniards killed millions in the S. Americas in 1491.



Some other links

Jade earrings open door on ancient trade (ABC Science Online)

Polynesians made first takeaway chicken (ABC Science Online)

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Interesting! I might add that when in Hawaii I saw what seemed to me to be a rectangular lake. The guide said the "Minihunis" made it. I asked him who they were and he said 'the little people." They have a myth that the Islands were first inhabited by a smaller people.


Clearly, no remains have been discovered of them and we have to assume it is just myth. However, the discovery of a smaller species on the Indonesian island of Flores does makes one wonder . . .

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Clearly, no remains have been discovered of them and we have to assume it is just myth. However, the discovery of a smaller species on the Indonesian island of Flores does makes one wonder . . .

Yes myths and legends are a peoples history. This oral history is so often ignored.

Although I did hear of an "ancient" dance performed by New Guinea natives. That, when properly investigated, turned out to be a mime of changing a tyre on a WW2 jeep!


Certainly it seems that the Pacific Islanders were great explorers and knew the islands of the Pacific well.

From what I know sickness did not decimate/annihilate the Marois of NZ as much as the Australian Aborigines (I could be wrong here; anyone know for sure?). This suggests contact with disease that might be caught across trade routes.

(Really isolated Aboriginal Nations in Tasmania became extinct.)


Does this mean the people of the Pacific had a Trade Route from one side to the other?

Is there any evidence of them using cocaine?

How come the Egyptians didn't use kava kava?

It seems hard to imagine.

What was the weather like 2,000 + years ago?

Was the pacific peaceful and easy to navigate?

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  • 2 years later...

This lecture certainly suggestes that pacific nations wer skilled shipbuilders and navigators and could find their way from S. America to Africa.


I wonder what the weather was like a few thosand years ago. Wast the Pacific more pacific?


The CBC Massey Lectures 2009


The Wayfinders is a profound celebration of the wonder of human genius and spirit as brought into being by culture.


Of the 7,000 languages spoken today, fully half may disappear in our lifetimes. This does not have to happen. The other cultures of the world are not failed attempts to be modern, failed attempts to be us. Each is a unique and profound answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When asked that question the peoples of the world respond with 7,000 sources of knowledge and wisdom, history and intuition which collectively comprise humanity's repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that we'll face as a species in the coming centuries. Every culture deserves a place at the council of the human experience.


In The Wayfinders anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis reveals the significance of what may be lost through a wild and thrilling exploration of what remains with us and very much alive. Travel to Polynesia and celebrate the art of navigation that allowed the Wayfinders to infuse the entire Pacific Ocean with their imagination and genius.

CBC Radio | Ideas | Massey Lectures

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There are lots of anomalies in history, a very few are difficult to answer, some are answered by mainstream science but still leave room for doubt. When I was a teenager I was really into the Chariots of the Gods thing, I am still relatively open minded about the possibility of a world wide sea faring culture near the end of the last ice age when most of science thinks all of humanity was barely stone age. I think i can defend this idea somewhat if anyone is interested.


I can see the possibilities of these things but the whole cocaine thing, if real does seem to be unresolvable with what we think of as the modern version of history. It seems that when evidence of these things come up the person who is promoting them always goes far beyond the small amounts of evidence and falls into crank territory quite quickly.


Because of that most mainstream scientists are very loathe to even consider the possibilities, being labeled a crank seems to happen much quicker now than it did in the past and even reasonable evidence is seldom followed due to fear of being labeled a crank. There seems to be few Thomas Golds who can go out beyond the envelope and succeed often enough to live down the failures.


Far too often it's the Erich von Dänikens who go out beyond the envelope and get lost and never really return, ending up trying to show everything from Kennedy's assassination to Noah's Ark to be connected. They make it much harder for more mainstream scientists to justify even looking much giving serious parts of their careers investigating things that never show credibility and the fear of a wasted career is I am sure quite real and justified.


On the other hand we can discuss this forever with little fear of anything but sore fingers from typing... Oh well, I'm thinking Phoenicians traded with South America, what say you?




For the establishment of commercial supremacy, an essential constituent was the Phoenician skill in navigation and seafaring. The Phoenicians are credited with the discovery and use of Polaris (the Pole Star). Fearless and patient navigators, they ventured into regions where no one else dared to go, and always, with an eye to their monopoly, they carefully guarded the secrets of their trade routes and discoveries and their knowledge of winds and currents. Pharaoh Necho II (610-595 BC) organized the Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa (Herodotus, iv, 42). Hanno, a Carthaginian, led another in the mid-5th century. The Carthaginians seem to have reached the island of Corvo in the Azores; and Britain. Some archeologists suggest that the Phoenicians may have reached America before the Vikings and/or Columbus? The hypothesis is based on inscriptions found in the Americas (including Brazil) and seemed to represent a Phoenician script. However, others find the hypothesis unfounded.
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Well Egyptian trading roots went though Red sea ports and on to India.



Tolls varied widely—a “Red Sea

skipper” paid eight drachmas, while “women

for companionship” were assessed 108

drachmas (Young 2001: 49)! The eastern-most

end of the Red Sea-Indian Ocean route can

also be traced archaeologically through finds

of Roman material, notably glass, which

occurs in numerous sites along the coast of

India (Meyer 1992).

eScholarship: Seafaring (good scholarly article worth a read if you are up on Egyptian Dynasties)

They had the technology


but archaeological evidence suggests a

high general level of technical skill in working

wood in the Predynastic Period. Construction

of wooden boats is certain by the 1st Dynasty

(Vinson 1994: 17 - 20; Ward 2003). While all

extant evidence for such early craft points

towards their use on the Nile, it is not difficult

to imagine that Egyptian vessels could have

sailed on the Mediterranean or Red Sea before

the Old Kingdom; there is no reason to doubt

that Egypt’s Predynastic and Early Dynastic

vessels were at least as well constructed as the

Mesolithic water-craft that brought obsidian

traders to the Greek island of Melos, or the

Neolithic water-craft that brought the earliest

settlers to Crete and Cyprus (Bass 1972: 12).

Moreover, there is considerable evidence for

the importation of exotic materials into Egypt

in the Gerzean/Naqada II Period (Hoffman

1979: 336 - 338; Marcus 2002). To what

extent this can be attributed to either land

transportation or seafaring cannot be

definitely determined.

ib id

However you would surely need some artifacts on both sides of the pacific to get a"smoking gun'

What would pacific islanders/S Americans want or need?

What would Egypt need?

Are dried coca leaves used in indigenous medicine?

If so for what use would Egyptians have of them?

You would think an anti-malerial like quinine would be more useful?


You could, I suppose, postulate a trading route like:- S. America-pacific islanders-SE Asia- India- red sea- Egypt. So you may not necessarily find Egyptian artifacts in S America, maybe just Polynesian or Indian.

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MMM just found this doggy?site

* Coins:

o Roman coins have been found in Venezuela and Maine.

o Roman coins were found in Texas at the bottom of an Indian mound at Round Rock. The mound is dated at approximately 800 AD.

o In 1957 by a small boy found a coin in a field near Phenix City, Alabama, from Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, and dating from 490 B.C.

o In the town of Heavener, Oklahoma, another out-of-place coin was found in 1976. Experts identified it as a bronze tetradrachm originally struck in Antioch, Syria in 63 A.D. and bearing the profile of the emperor Nero.

o In 1882, a farmer in Cass County, Illinois picked up bronze coin later identified as a coin of Antiochus IV, one of the kings of Syria who reigned from 175 B.C. to 164 B.C., and who is mentioned in the Bible.

* Pottery: Roman pottery was unearthed in Mexico that, according to its style, has been dated to the second century A.D.

* Inscriptions:

o In 1966, a man named Manfred Metcalf stumbled upon a stone in the state of Georgia that bears an inscription that is very similar to ancient writing from the island of Crete called "Cretan Linear A and B writing."

o In the early 1900s, Bernardo da Silva Ramos, a Brazilian rubber-tapper working in the Amazon jungle, found many large rocks on which was inscribed more than 2,000 ancient scripts about the "Old World."

o Near Rio de Janeiro, high on a vertical wall of rock - 3,000 feet up - is an inscription that reads: 'Tyre, Phoenicia, Badezir, Firstborn of Jethbaal..." and dated to the middle of the ninth century B.C.

o Near Parahyba, Brazil, an inscription on Phoenician has been translated, in part, as: "We are sons of Canaan from Sidon, the city of the king. Commerce has cast us on this distant shore, a land of mountains. We set [sacrificed] a youth for the exalted gods and goddesses in the nineteenth year of Hiram, our mighty king. We embarked from Ezion-Geber into the Red Sea and voyaged with ten ships. We were at sea together for two years around the land belonging to Ham [Africa] but were separated by a storm [lit. 'from the hand of Baal'], and we were no longer with our companions. So we have come here, twelve men and three women, on a... shore which I, the Admiral, control. But auspiciously may the gods and goddesses favor us!"

o The Kensington Stone, discovered in Kensington, Minnesota in 1898 contains an inscription describing an expedition of Norsemen into the interior of what is now North America. It's estimated that this expedition took place in the 1300s.

o In 1980, P.M. Leonard and J.L. Glenn, from the Hogle Zoological Gardens, Salt Lake City, visited a rock outcropping in Colorado that was reputed to be inscribed with "peculiar markings." Leonard and Glenn believe they are excellent examples of Consainne Ogam writing - a type ascribed to ancient Celts. One of the many inscriptions was translated as: "Route Guide: To the west is the frontier town with standing stones as boundary markers."

o A fist-sized, round stone was found during the early 1890s in an cemetery near Nashville, Tennessee. Its front was inscribed with symbols thought to be Libyan, pre-100 A.D. style. It translates as: "The colonists pledge to redeem."

* Pictures: An experienced botanist has identified plants in an ancient fresco painting as a pineapple and a specific species of squash - both native to the Americas. Yet the fresco is in the Roman city of Pompeii.

Ancients in America
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It is amazing what scholarly study of poo and worms throws up !

Recent reviews of helminthological findings in archaeological material (Wilke and Hall, 1975; Fry, 1977; Reinhard et al., 1987), do not mention the presence of hookworms in prehistoric deposits in Europe.

However hookworms disease was a well known problem in ancient times in the Old World. Hoeppli (1959) published a discussion about diseases in ancient populations based on old documents, such as Hipocratic texts and the Ebers Papyrus, and mentions hookworm disease, characterized by hidropsy, anaemia, and geofagy, in ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt.


The peopling of the Americas was a matter of argument since the Europeans discovered that it was inhabited (Laming-Emperaire, 1980).

Since the writings of Hrdlicka (1915) the Behring Land Bridge was accepted as the main route of migration of Asiatic populations from Siberian regions.

Rivet (1928) proposed an alternative route by transpacific migrations from Polynesia to America. This was supported later by archaeological findings of similar artifacts in both continents (Meggers and Evans, 1966).


. . .


With recent findings of archaeological sites in North and South America with datings older than those previously admited for prehistoric migration (Reeves, 1985; Bryan, 1986; Simpson et al., 1986; Guidon and Delibrias, 1986; Dillehay, 1986), new facts were added to the issue of the time of arrival of man in America.


For the introduction of hookworm infection in the New World to be possible, the sea routes are the only ones to be considered. It would be impossible for the parasite to survive in the cold climate of the pole, by the way of Behring. The slow speed of migrating hunter-gatheres, who were not in search for a new habitat, lasted a few generations (Mather, 1954), and the climate would act as a "filter" for some of the infectious diseases (Stewart, 1960).


After the evidence of hookworm infection in precolumbian times dated from 900 BC in Peru (Allison et al., 1974) and from 3490 ± 120 to 430 ± 70 years in Brazil (Ferreira et al., 1980; 1983), it was proposed that its introduction in the New World occurred by means of transpacific migrations (Araújo et al., 1981; Horne, 1985; Nozais, 1985).

This is in accordance with transpacific contacts at 3000 BC based on the archaeological artifacts studied by Meggers and Evans (1966).


But the discovery of the infection at 7230 ± 80 years in Brazil (Ferreira et al., 1987) is a new fact and two possibilities can be raised.

First the transpacific contacts dates from before 7230 years BP (Before Present) and the paleoparasitological data indicates that archaeological research in the Pacific coast of South America may reveal more remote relations with Asiatic population than is known today.

. . .


It is also to be noted that paleoparasitological data show that navigation technology had been known to man for more than 7230 years.

It is interesting to note that together with hookworm infection two other prehistoric helminth infections, found in human coprolites in America, support these hypothesis: Trichuris trichiura (Pizzi and Schenone, 1954; Ferreira et al., 1980; 1983; Reinhard et al., 1987), and Strongyloides stercoralis (Hall, 1972; Fry, 1980; Reinhard, 1985).


Paleoparasitology is now a research field that can elucidate the past History not only about infectious diseases in ancient people, but also concerning the beginning of peopling of continents.

Cadernos de Saúde Pública - Hookworms and the peopling of America


Remember that hilarious scene in the SA movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy" wher the hero has to admit to the 'love interest' that he studies elephant turds?

I have a new respect for the studiers of coprolites and fresher deposits now!

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That's some wild stuff Michael, is there any reason these things are dismissed and not acknowledged by modern science?

They probably haven't bothered, or caught up with the research yet.


Without intending to, with 30 mins WWW research, i think I have made a good case for trade goods moving between Egypt and South America.

If that doggy site is correct all that is needed is some artifacts and they say they have those.

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  • 2 months later...

Maybe there was cocaine and tobacco growing in the middle east or asia but it died out or became illegal so they stopped growing it. I think it's ridiculous to say that the ancient people could not cross over to the Americas. Just because no "sea ferrying" boats from the Egyptians exist doesn't mean some one else like the Phoenicians couldn't have done it.


Honestly, i think there could be a cover up. History has decided that Columbus discovered America and they want to keep it that way. Most people who have looked into the subject probably know that the Vikings reached America in 1000AD and the Knights Templars probably came before Columbus. Also some argue that Columbus could have been associated with the Templars due to the ships sails being white with a red cross on them. Also where he came from has a history of the Templars.






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