Traces of tobacco and “recreational” plants in Maya archaeological artifacts

What if the Mayans didn’t just smoke tobacco? In any case, archaeologists who discovered mysterious containers are trying to prove it. Notched pumpkins dating from AD 750-900 would still contain mysterious substances similar to psychotropic drugs of this type!

We already know that pre-Columbian civilizations used and abused plants to heal themselves. In certain respects they were even very avant-garde. Didn’t you invent a water filtration system more than 2000 years ago? Let’s get back to these plants, which were discovered and analyzed by American archaeologists.

The Mayas have always been an inexhaustible source of research for scientists. In these pumpkins they discovered tobacco, but also another plant that was mixed with it, this study published in the journal Nature reveals. Researchers believe these plants could have been medicines. You are now trying to identify them and whether or not they were psychoactive.

Marigold mixed with tobacco, but why?

The identified plant would be “Mexican marigold” (Tagetes Lucida), the 14 containers also contained two types of tobacco: Nicotiana tabacum and N. Rustica. Scientists envision that marigolds were added to tobacco for a more “relaxing” experience!

For their research, the scientists used a new method based on metabolomics. This method can identify botanicals in archaeological artifacts like these pumpkins or even pipes that were used for smoking.

14 containers with traces of the “Mexican marigold” (Tagetes Lucida) and two types of tobacco: Nicotiana Tabacum and N. Rustica. Photo credit: Zimmermann et al., Scientific Reports, 2021

The use of “medicinal plants”

“Although it has been established that tobacco was widely used in America before and after contact, the evidence for other plants used for medicinal or religious purposes has remained largely unexplored (…). The analytical methods developed in collaboration between the Department of Anthropology and the United States Institute of Biological Chemistry offers us the opportunity to study drug use in ancient times like never before. Explains Mario Zimmermann, research leader for a team at Washington State University.

Other containers held by Mexican institutions could contain plants that are as yet unknown. Or at least that we don’t know what was used for 2000 years ago … The Mayans were decidedly forerunners in many fields … It wouldn’t be surprising that they were the first to use CBD! Even if at that time there weren’t that many laws regulating its use!