Ancient humans were using hallucinogenic chemicals to get high during cave ceremonies 3,000 years ago, according to a recent study by researchers studying ancient human civilizations.
The finding of hairs from a burial site in Menorca, Spain, by specialists demonstrates that drugs originating from plants and bushes were utilised by prehistoric human civilizations.
According to a report by The BBC, the findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed signs of human activity at the Es Carritx cave, on the south-western side of Menorca. The cave houses more than 200 human graves and is believed to have served as a ritual and funerary site for about 600 years, until 800 BCE.
The authors of the study explained that “as early as the Palaeolithic period, humans came across the non-food properties of certain plants.” The results presented here indicate that several alkaloid-bearing plants were consumed by Bronze Age people from Menorca (although Solanaceae and Ephedra were not the only ones to have been consumed).”
“Interestingly, the psychoactive substances detected in this study are not suitable for alleviating the pain involved in severe palaeopathological conditions attested in the population buried in the cave of Es Carritx, such as periapical abscesses, severe caries, and arthropathies.”
“Considering the potential toxicity of the alkaloids found in the hair, their handling, use, and applications represented highly specialised knowledge. This knowledge was typically possessed by shamans, who were capable of controlling the side effects of the plant drugs through an ecstasy that made diagnosis or divination possible.”