A new analysis of a 3,000-year-old burial site in Spain has revealed that ancient Europeans consumed psychedelic drugs. The discovery was made possible by the finding of several strands of dyed red hair, which contained traces of three compounds that can be produced from native plants: atropine, scopolamine, and ephedrine.
The analysis suggests that the individual the hair belonged to was consuming these psychoactive compounds regularly for at least a year before their death.
The report, entitled Direct evidence of the use of multiple drugs in Bronze Age Menorca (Western Mediterranean) from human hair analysis, suggests that our ancient ancestors used drugs in much the same way we did – to expand consciousness.
“In our society, we take drugs probably to get away, to forget some disgusting situations or embarrassing situations. But we think that in the past, in Minorca, the drugs were used only by certain individuals to perform this …. specific social role,” said Rafael Mico, a professor of archeological pre-history at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “Our hypothesis is that these individuals were a kind of shaman.”
It’s not clear what plants these shamanistic users ate, but it’s clear they ate enough of them to be part of the archeological record.