The Indians of the North-West of North America, who lived about 1400 years ago, smoked a mix of local tobacco with sumac. To such conclusion the researchers who have studied the traces of metabolites in the ancient tube. As noted by the authors in an article for the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, their work confirms the effectiveness of the new methods, which can be used in the study of other archaeological finds.
The use of tonic and psychoactive plants is an important part of the culture of native Americans. Unfortunately, to reconstruct the history of these practices is more complicated than it seems, because many of them have changed under the influence of the European colonists. For example, among the Indians inhabiting the North-West of North America, widespread Smoking of ordinary tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). However, scientists suspect that this plant has penetrated into the local culture only after contact with Europeans in the eighteenth century. Apparently, before the Indians were Smoking something else.
To shed light on this question would analyze the ancient pipes have been found by archaeologists on the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada. The age of some of them is from four to five thousand years. Alas, the use of traditional methods, which are based on the search of traces of nicotine and other alkaloids, does not allow to distinguish closely related species of the genus Nicotiana , and to understand what of them was used by the Indians in their pipes.
In search of a solution to the problem a group of researchers led by Shannon Tushingham (Shannon Tushingham) from the University of Washington have used other technologies metabolomic. Previously, the team has already made some interesting discoveries in this area — for example, provedthat the Indians tribes-percé from the North-West of the USA have smoked some kind of tobacco two and a half thousand years ago.
At this time, the researchers assessed the contents of a wider range of metabolites in the smoke from Smoking several types of tobacco and some other local plants. For this purpose the dried leaves were smoked in experimental clay pipes. Starting from the obtained data, the researchers analyzed two authentic Indian pipe from the North-West of North America. One of them dates from the end of XVIII century, the second age based on radiocarbon Dating estimated 1334-1524 year.
It turned out that the tube era preexposure vaccination program used for Smoking several types of plants, primarily of bare sumac (Rhus glabra). This is the first evidence of Smoking any of the plants in addition to tobacco obtained from the analysis of the ancient tube. Among the several types of tobacco, traces of which were found by the researchers, dominated the four-tobacco (N. quadrivalvis), which grows exclusively in the Western United States. The authors believed that Indians were mixed into the tobacco sumac for medicinal properties or its pleasant aroma last.
Analysis younger tube showed that after the arrival of Europeans, the Indians completely abandoned species of tobacco and replaced it with a brought back from the East of the continent tobacco (N. rustica), which contains more nicotine. This contradicts existing ideas, according to which the traditional types of plants came in ordinary tobacco (N. tabacum).
According to the authors, their study allowed to reconstruct the habits of the indigenous population of the North-West of North America. In addition, she demonstrated the performance of the new method, metabolite. Scientists hope that it will study the use of plants and other ancient cultures.
In our days, tobacco is used not only for Smoking. This plant has long become a popular model organism, and in the future, its seeds can be used for biodiesel production. Other unusual use of tobacco read our affiliate material “No Smoking”.