A new study published in the well-known journal Scientific Reports sheds light on some ancient habits of civilizations belonging to the Bronze Age and in particular on their use of… hallucinogens.
After seeing laudanum which was the drug of choice in the Victorian era, a new analysis coordinated by the Spanish University of Valladolid has examined the artifacts found in the cave of the Cart in Menorca. It is a place that appears to have been first occupied about 3,600 years ago and that inside it contains a chamber used up to 2,800 years ago for funerary burials.
Up to here, you will think “nothing in particular”, since what has aroused wonder among the experts resides precisely in a second chamber, sealed and located deeper in the cave. It is precisely in this place that wooden containers have been discovered and horns decorated with concentric circles holding locks of red-dyed hair taken from some of the buried individuals.
The research team, using various techniques, has surprisingly identified the presence of alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine and ephedrine in the locks. While the first two can induce hallucinations, delirium and impaired sensory perception, ephedrine can even enhance arousal and physical activity. We are talking specifically about substances that are easy to find because they are present in nature, in some plants.
Apparently therefore, in addition to eating giant snails over 100,000 years ago, already 3,000 years ago some populations were use of these drugs and specifically of hallucinogensmost likely during some ritual considered sacred.