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Author Topic: cocaine and nicotine mummies  (Read 5198 times)


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cocaine and nicotine mummies
« on: 11/10/2006 23:23:20 »
German scientists found low amounts of nicotine and cocaine in ancient Egyptian mummies. The problem is that both cocaine and tabacco are only known to be indigenous to the Americas! Some have speculated a global trade network existed in ancient times, but this simply cannot be true! More, likely, I think, modern contamination and/or some other ancient plant(s) that had substances like cocaine and nicotine were responsible for this find.



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Re: cocaine and nicotine mummies
« Reply #1 on: 11/10/2006 23:55:23 »

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.

Cocaine, although structurally similar to other alkaloids found in the same family of plants, is not itself found in any plant of that group, and would be more difficult to account for than nicotine (assuming it is cocaine that was found, and not a related alkaloid).

I believe that aubergines originate ins India, and were available throughout Asia, and so could easily have been a source of nicotine.  Tomatoes, potatoes, and green peppers, like tobacco, are ofcourse new world plants.

There has been much speculation, usually with an absence of any substantive supporting facts, that occasional ships may have drifted across the Atlantic in antiquity, but I don't know of anyone who has argued that there were regular trade routes across the Atlantic in antiquity.

« Last Edit: 12/10/2006 00:01:06 by another_someone »

Offline gecko

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Re: cocaine and nicotine mummies
« Reply #2 on: 12/10/2006 05:40:02 »
once again egyptian remains shake up preconceptions of history

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: cocaine and nicotine mummies
« Reply #2 on: 12/10/2006 05:40:02 »


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