Drugs have been a part of mankind for thousands of years. There has actually been some evidence of the use of medicinal plants all the way back to 60,000 years ago. Recently archeologists discovered a 1,000-year-old Shaman’s Bag that contained Psychotropic drugs. Cocaine is an example of psychotropic drugs that were found in the pouch discovered in Bolivia. Anthropologist Jose Capriles had this to say about the discovery:
“We already knew that psychotropics were important in the spiritual and religious activities of the societies of the south-central Andes, but we did not know that these people were using so many different compounds and possibly combining them together.”
It was the largest number of psychoactive substances ever found in a single archaeological assemblage from South America. Throughout history, humans have used plant-based substances to alter perception, especially in religious or ritual contexts. The pouch was stitched together from three fox snouts. Inside were two wooden tablets for grinding psychotropic plants.
Using a scalpel, the team of archeologists was able to take a small piece of the fox pouch and date it back 1,000 years. The findings indicated at least three plants were being used. There was also evidence of the use of psychedelic tea.
“Chemical traces of bufotenine, dimethyltryptamine, harmine, and cocaine, including its degradation product benzoylecgonine, were identified,”
It is impossible to gauge exactly how the plants were prepared. But they do almost 100% know it was a Shaman’s bag as they were the only people to know how to use drugs to connect to the spiritual world. This discovery shows the people in the region had an impressive knowledge of plants and their properties.
The crazy part is none of the psychoactive compounds were indigenous to the area of the Andes they were discovered in. This indicated they were an elaborate amount of trading going on in order to obtain these plants. I guess people in the past are not so much different from us after all.