Kevin7
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Kevin7 asked in TravelAfrica & Middle EastEgypt · 10 years ago

did scientists find nicotine and coca in Egyptian mummies?

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  • connie
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
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    1992 Svetlana Balabanova, a well- respected pathologist associated with the University of Ulm took samples of hair, bone and soft tissue from the museum's nine mummies. She tested the samples using radioimmunoassay and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Her results were surprising. Finding no opium, no lotus, the samples contained traces of nicotine and cocaine. The levels were low, but Balabanova believed they must have dropped over the centuries. If her interpretation was right, the levels originally equaled those in modern smokers and cocaine users. But, the only concentrated source of nicotine is tobacco, and cocaine is found only in the coca plant. Both are New World plants, and are generally considered to have been unknown elsewhere before 1492. The Munich mummies lived hundreds to thousands of years earlier. Balabanova was intrigued and, since 1992, has tested hundreds of mummies from Egypt, Sudan, China and Germany ranging from 800 to 3000 years of age. Nicotine showed up everywhere in an average of a third of the mummies from each site. Recently, other labs have begun testing Egyptian mummies and finding nicotine. Three samples from the Manchester Museum revealed traces of the drug, as have 14 samples taken directly from an archeological dig near Cairo.

    Paul Manuelian, an Egyptologist at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, points to the contents of Egyptian tombs and the paintings on their walls, representing everything the occupant would need in their next life including such luxuries as beer and opium. But not one tobacco or coca leaf has ever been found. Representations of alcohol and lotus are common. But there are none of Egyptians using tobacco or coca.

    Larry Cartmell, Clinical Laboratory Director at the Valley View Hospital in Aida, Oklahoma and amateur archeologist, has been testing South American mummies for nicotine and cocaine for over a decade. "There is no way to be sure the tests are accurate," he says, "because you can't get historical evidence from the mummies." That is, you can't ask the mummy how much he smokes or if he chews coca leaves. However, his results match well with the cultural evidence. Some mummies are found buried with bags of coca leaves or with a wad of leaves still in their cheek. These mummies test positive for cocaine. Mummies from cultures in which coca isn't important usually don't. Just about everyone tests positive for nicotine. Given the importance of tobacco throughout South American this should come as no surprise. The levels of nicotine and cocaine Cartmell has found in his South American mummies fall at the low end of what one might see in a modern smoker or cocaine user. Balabanova has tested one group of Peruvian mummies, finding levels of cocaine similar to Cartmell's results. Oddly, she found cocaine in only one other group of mummies, her very first batch from the Munich Museum. A simpler explanation is that they were exposed during modern times , and these results can best be explained by someone doing cocaine in the Munich Museum mummy room.

    Cartmell recently found nicotine levels similar to Balabanova's results in fourteen Egyptian mummies. And Balabanova's nicotine results for Peruvian mummies she tested agree well with Cartmell's for a similar group. A second difficulty also stems from Cartmell's work. Despite several attempts to detect nicotine in mummified bone, he has yet to get a positive result. The samples he used were each taken from mummies with very high nicotine levels in their hair. The two disparate results stand in stalemate; neither reliable without independent confirmation.

    Balabanova found a wide range of nicotine levels, Three of the Egyptian mummies she has tested have nicotine levels in their bones many times greater than those seen in modern smokers. The lethally high levels made her suspect that nicotine may not have been ingested. Instead, they may have been used as part of the embalming process. The idea makes some sense; nicotine in high levels has a preservative and insecticidal effect that would be useful in mummification. According to Lise Manniche in her Ancient Egyptian Herbal, compositae, a plant containing trace levels of nicotine, was used as part of the mummification of Ramses II. If nicotine was used as a medicine, how was it obtained? Three possible scenarios seem to fit the data: 1) trade with South America 2) a previously unknown Old World species of tobacco existed, but died out before modern times or 3) the nicotine came from some other plant.

    Beyond the pathology results, there is little to nothing to support the idea of Egyptian trade with the New World. The Egyptians were, according to Teeter, 'famously bad sailors.' They managed to circumnavigate Africa, but only by staying within sight of the coast. They were incapable of crossing the Mediterranean, far less the Atlantic. If they used an intermediary to make the trip, one would expect far more and far more widespread evidence.

    Source(s): Even if the Egyptians weren't interested in using cocaine and tobacco as recreational drugs, others of the trader's clients would be. Plant remains and records would trace the route the traders took. Despite diligent searches by those enamored of the idea of pre-Columbian contact, nothing of the sort has been found. http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/History/toke_like_...
  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Because the mummies weren't excavated yesterday. Up until the late 1970s EVERYBODY smoked. You don't see it on TV, but in the old days, when citizens still had rights, you could smoke anywhere you wanted. In restaurants, at work, in bars, anywhere and everywhere. This includes museums, where mummies might be on display, or in archaeological digs, where mummies would be found, or in train stations and on ships, where mummies would be transported. They would have been found by smokers, carried by smokers, transported by smokers, viewed by smokers. So any mummy that was found before about 1990 would have spent many years being exposed to "second hand smoke".

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    4 years ago

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    4 years ago

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  • 6 years ago

    Trading with the actual sea masters of that era, the Phoenecians, whose ships and crews were capable of trans-Atlantic voyage, explains this so called mystery. North America archaeologists have mistakenly attributed evidence of their presence in NA to Native Americans. Bronze Age tools have turned up in numerous Native American archaeological dig sites, but essentially have been kept in the back room as un-explainable. I believe the two seemingly impossible discoveries actually go hand in hand to explain both mysteries. The Phoenecians were of course trading at both points.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Cocaine Mummies

  • snow
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    no those are both new world plants unknown in Egypt until 1500's

  • 10 years ago

    what?

    who said that?

    I'm sorry but i have never heard of such a thing before.

    Source(s): Egyptian.
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