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Title: Investigating the use of coca and other psychoactive plants in Pre-Columbian mummies from Chile and Peru : an analytical investigation into the feasibility of testing ancient hair for drug compounds
Author: Brown, Emma Louise
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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Psychoactive plants have played a significant role in Andean cultures for millennia. Whilst there is evidence of the importance of psychoactive plants in the Andean archaeological record, none of these are direct proof that these culturally significant plants were used by ancient Andean populations. This project utilised liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to investigate the use of psychoactive plants in individuals from cemetery sites in Chile and Peru by analysing hair specimens for a variety of psychoactive compounds. Hair specimens from 46 individuals buried at cemetery sites in the Azapa Valley (northern Chile) belonging to the Cabuza culture (c AD 300 ¿ 1000) indicated around half of these people ingested coca, as evidenced by the detection of BZE in hair specimens. Two individuals from this population tested positive for bufotenine, the main alkaloid in Anadenanthera snuff. There is a specific material culture associated with snuffing. These findings confirm Anadenanthera was consumed in the Azapa Valley. The 11 individuals from Peru came from the necropolis at Puruchuco-Huaquerones in the Rímac valley near Lima. These individuals belonged to the Ichma culture, but would have been under Inca imperial control during the Late Horizon. Although only a small sample, two-thirds tested positive for BZE, suggestive that access to coca was widespread. This project presents a synthesis of the archaeological evidence for the use of various psychoactive plants in Andes. Also presented is the first report of the detection of bufotenine in ancient hair samples and additional data contributing to the understanding of the use of coca in the Andes.
Supervisor: Wilson, Andrew S.; Stern, Ben; Janaway, Robert C.; Taylor, Timothy F. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) ; University of Bradford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Inca ; Cabuza ; Human remains ; Coco ; Bufotenine ; Bioarchaeology ; Andes ; Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) ; Psychoactive plants ; Pre-Columbian mummies ; Azapa Valley, Chile ; Anadenanthera ; Puruchuco-Huaquerones, Peru