Researchers have discovered human hair on which traces of drugs were found at a cemetery in Menorca, Spain. This is the conclusion of a new study published in Scientific Reports.
The hair was found in the Es Càrritx cave, containing 200 human graves. The cave would have been used as a burial place for 600 years, until about 800 BC. The hairs would therefore be about 3,000 years old.
The researchers found three psychoactive substances in the hair. Atropine and scopolamine cause hallucinations, and ephedrine increases alertness. It is possible that the substances were used during rituals in the cave. However, the researchers believe that shamans may have been involved “who were able to control the side effects of the herbal drugs.”
“As early as the Paleolithic, humans came into contact with the non-nutritive properties of certain plants,” the study reads. “Interestingly, the psychoactive substances discovered in this study are not suitable for alleviating the pain associated with severe paleopathological conditions experienced by the cave-buried population, such as dental abscesses, severe tooth decay, and arthritis and osteoarthritis. .”
Earlier evidence of prehistoric drug use in Europe was based on circumstantial evidence, such as images.