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Thread: American Drugs in Egyptian Mummies

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by gpbullock
    I've read in the past that there is some evidence that the Chinese and possibly white people traded with south americans before the first explorers ever set foot in the new world. It's been years but I remember reading in seperate articles on artifacts showing dark and light skinned natives in relief and some carvings that had asian features different from other carvings. Obviously this isn't proof of trade between the continents but another interesting possibility.
    Now that is something that Wise does accept. I remember him mentioning the book here or in chat a couple of years ago. Not sure if this is the book he referred to: http://www.1421.tv/

    Columbus wasn't the first to visit the America's.

    This article provides a good overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Col...ntact#Africans

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by antiquity
    Now that is something that Wise does accept. I remember him mentioning the book here or in chat a couple of years ago. Not sure if this is the book he referred to: http://www.1421.tv/

    Columbus wasn't the first to visit the America's.

    This article provides a good overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Col...ntact#Africans
    Of course, Columbus was not the only one to visit the Americas. Lots of people visited the Americas and people from Americas probably visited outside of the continent, e.g. settled the polynesian islands. There is little doubt that the Chinese (or precursors to the Chinese) visited the Americas. The people that we call American Indians came across the Bering Strait and they consequently share many of the genes of the early Chinese, including the defective alcohol dehydrogenase gene.

    Regarding the Chinese visiting the Americas with the eunuch's fleet, a lot of it is speculative and the evidence is still weak. On the other hand, the evidence is quite strong that the Chinese visited Africa not once but many times, leaving evidence of their visits to Madagascar and other places. In any case, it really doesn't matter because whether they went to China or not, it had little or no effect on China.

    The Vikings also apparently had hop skipped and jumped from Greenland to Nova Scotia and perhaps further south. However, their visits too were not significant because they had no lasting effect on the Americas and the Americas had little effect on the Vikings.

    Columbus, however, had a major effect on the Americas and vice versa. The discovery by Columbus transformed Europe. Unfortunately, the effect was very bad for the American Indians. In North America, probably 95% of them were killed, either by disease or violence over a 200 year period, a true genocide that has never been acknowledged.

    By the way, I am not saying that the Egyptians did not go to the Americas. I am only pointing out that the finding of nicotine in the mummies is not adequate proof. I must say that the Aztecs did build very big pyramids. The Incas did mummify their dead. It is interesting. Maybe a bunch of Egyptians went there.

    Wise.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    Of course, Columbus was not the only one to visit the Americas. Lots of people visited the Americas and people from Americas probably visited outside of the continent, e.g. settled the polynesian islands. There is little doubt that the Chinese (or precursors to the Chinese) visited the Americas. The people that we call American Indians came across the Bering Strait and they consequently share many of the genes of the early Chinese, including the defective alcohol dehydrogenase gene.
    Well yah, we all know that. That's taught in the history books Wise. I wasn't referring to the early peopling of America, only to later trade contact with the Chinese who, by that time, did not view native Americans as their genetic brethren.

    Regarding the Chinese visiting the Americas with the eunuch's fleet, a lot of it is speculative and the evidence is still weak. On the other hand, the evidence is quite strong that the Chinese visited Africa not once but many times, leaving evidence of their visits to Madagascar and other places. In any case, it really doesn't matter because whether they went to China or not, it had little or no effect on China.
    There has always been trading for the simple sake of exchanging goods and services. The motive behind all travel then was not to move in to dominate or supplant an existing culture so an absence of evidence indicating a permanent effect on anothers language or culture is not a negative.

    Columbus, however, had a major effect on the Americas and vice versa. The discovery by Columbus transformed Europe. Unfortunately, the effect was very bad for the American Indians. In North America, probably 95% of them were killed, either by disease or violence over a 200 year period, a true genocide that has never been acknowledged.
    It's interesting, with the evidence of trading and long patterns of contact with Americans and between Africans, Asians and Europeans, i.e. the Silk Road, Timbukto etc., it's obvious that all encounters between people from different cultures/nationalities need not culminate in violence, cultural destruction or racial genocide, in fact, most of them didn't. Yes, it is very unfortunate that this wasn't also the case with the first Portugese contact with native Americans. Sigh.

    The whole notion of xenophobia and the promotion and subsequent acceptance of the myth that it's inherent to kill or want to kill people who look different is a recent phenomenon that started with attempts to justify and rationalize the savage treatment native americans, and just about everyone since the 1500's, has been subjected to.
    Last edited by antiquity; 06-19-2007 at 07:50 PM.

  4. #14
    I hope no one is offended that I join to practice necromancy, and resurrect a thread from 2007.

    I have a research interest and am looking to pick the brains of anyone familiar with levels in drug tests, cocaine-like plants of the Old World, or any possible evidence of their ingestion or trade.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    The concentrations found were of the level that suggested medicinal use rather than abuse.
    I have the original Balabanova paper, and some additional literature both before and after her team did its analysis, but these concentrations are something I can't quite get a handle on. I take it that there are people here relatively familiar with pharmacology and what the levels in her paper may or may not indicate about the use of any of these substances.

    There are at least four possible ways the tobacco/nicotine got into/onto the mummies:

    1) Part of ancient wrapping/preservation technique. (Tobacco fibers have in fact been observed in the bandages.)
    2) 19th century pesticide or some similarly hypothetical thought experiment.
    3) The mummies ingested the tobacco by eating or inhalation while alive. (This also seems to be supported by at least one report of removed stomach contents, though I can't find any original studies on Layer-Lescot's 1976 analyses.)
    4) Contamination by modern smoking near the mummies, which of course would not explain the other observations, but might still contaminate the numbers anyway if it occurred in addition to the rest.

    I also know nothing of how much these levels might decay over time.

    For whatever it's worth, the earliest discovery of tobacco on these mummies was reported, as far as I know, by a Dr. Layer-Lescot around 1976, and she made her identification of the plant at least partially by some kind of visual analysis on fibers left on the wrappings which she viewed under a microscope, rather than depending on a chemical test for nicotine. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a DNA test could even isolate the specific variety of the plant.

    There is at least one variety of tobacco native to Africa, but it's on isolated mountains in the Namib, across the Sahara and Congo from Egypt, and might as well have been on another continent for how formidable any trade route would have been. Botanists aren't sure how a variety of tobacco made it to the mountains of the Namib in the first place, though it has been tested and does in fact contain nicotine. Other varieties of tobacco could conceivably have come from Australia or the South Pacific via overland trade routes, or, of course, transatlantic voyages on reed craft ? la Thor Heyerdahl.

    Even if the tobacco did come from southern Africa, any overland trade route would have been at least as difficult and lengthy as a trade route by sea. For the Egyptians to have been traveling along the coast of Africa all the way to Namibia for tobacco would really not be that much less impressive than just crossing the Atlantic in four weeks using the trade winds, and arguably either of those would have been easier than crossing the Sahara and then the Congo by land to reach Namibia, especially when one considers the nearly perpetual tribal warfare and political chaos that has been subsaharan Africa for as long as it has been known historically. The trade route across Asia, which could have brought Australian or South Pacific varieties of tobacco, would have also been an impressive feat, though probably not carried out by the Egyptians themselves.

    Layer-Lescot had access to these mummies as part of an agreement between the governments of France and Egypt. Unfortunately, I don't have her original study and I haven't seen that she even published one (though I can read French if one does exist). It looks like the research that her and her colleagues did may have gotten relatively little attention, probably moreso from newspapers articles than the stuffy response she received from fellow academics, who were probably as surprised as she was at the conception that historians and archaeologists might also make mistakes.


    Likewise, there are cocaine producing plants, called erthyroxylum, that are indigenous to Africa, India, and Asia.
    This is something I need more information about. The scientific name you've just thrown out will help me narrow my searches, but if there were cocaine-like drugs being used by royalty in ancient times then that in itself would be a major discovery, even without the confirmation of pre-Columbian contacts. The use of lotus by the Greeks, smoking marijuana and hash, opium, ingesting at least two varieties of magic mushrooms, etc., are already known. Trading a cocaine-like plant would be something I've not come across before.

    And as someone who actually studied history rather than sciences or medicine, I can tell you guys that historians and archaeologists aren't as solid on the whole "Columbus was first" or even "the Vikings were first" as many non-historians would likely believe. The university textbooks now mention the possibilities of Chinese contact on the West Coast, and others that I don't recall off hand. The land-bridge theory not only has the Solutrean hypothesis to deal with but another very serious challenge from evidence of island-hopping migrations across the Pacific to the west coasts of both North and South America. These are all ongoing areas of research. Think of Columbus as "disclosure." He was more political than any actual "first."

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