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Archaeologists say they found the earliest evidence that humans used tobacco

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Excavation at Wishbone.

Excavation at the Wishbone site in northwestern Utah.
Photo: Daron Duke

In the summer of 2015, a team of Utah archaeologists discovered duck bones and charred plant remains just underground in the arid region of northwest Utah, now known as the Wishbone site. The team realized that it was an open-air hearth, about 12,000 years old, and now the same group reported the discovery of tobacco seeds on the site. If confirmed, the find will become the oldest known evidence of tobacco use by humans.

Sesmall charred veral seeds we found near the hearth, among thousands of bones and eggs fragments, stone tools, and other plant substances. The hearth site is at the eastern end Large pool; although today is dry, it once was marshland (hence the duck bonec), near the place where an ancient river once flowed. When the river has dried up, the research team suspects that v people switched to. Team i researchs published today at Nature Human Behavior.

Seed of Nicotiana, found in Utah.

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One of the 12,300-year-old tobacco seeds found in this area.
Photo: Angela Armstrong-Ingram

“The people who camped at Wishbone were very mobile, as we know from the chemical analysis of their stone tools,” said Daron Duke, an archaeologist with the Far Eastern Anthropological Research Group and lead author of the study… “They moved hundreds of kilometers, probably annually / seasonally,” Duke wrote in an email.The closest natural habitat of the tobacco species found at Wishbone is 13 km away. [8 miles] far away, but for these people, they could very well have collected it somewhere else / far away and have it as part of their portable kit. “

People who consumed tobacco at Wishbone were probably associated with Western tradition, I AMindigenous peoples who lived in this area at the turn of the Holocene. Today the site is in Goshute territory west of the Great Salt Lake. Due to the geographical location of the plant to matter found at the hearth, researchers believe people who left them there were prolific travelers.

Long before the Big Tobacco Factory kept humanity. Evidence of tobacco growing and consumption found all over America. Of course, several types of tobacco were smoked, but parts of the plant called quids were also chewed or sucked. The tiny seeds that people have encountered while chewing on cakes will be spat out, possibly thrown into ancient hearths. This ancient people will look for the effects of nicotine, which is not surprising given that people were addiction to psychoactive substances for many, many millennium, if you believe the archaeological data.

In 2018, another team of archaeologists in Alabama found evidence tobacco in a pipe dating from about 3600 years ago. Depending on how you interpret the recent team’s evidence, it could be the oldest such evidence by thousands of years. As impressive as the new date is, more research will be needed to figure out the true tobacco use on Wishbone.


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