San Pedro de Atacama in Chile (Flickr/NickGoesGlobal)

San Pedro de Atacama in Chile (Flickr/NickGoesGlobal)

Butt Heads: Chilean Mummies Prove Smoking Goes Back to 100 B.C.

By examining the hair of mummies from the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, researchers discovered the ancient inhabitants had a nicotine habit spanning hundred of years, reported Yahoo.

One surprising finding was that nicotine appears to have been used across all social ranks, regardless of wealth, from at least 100 B.C. to A.D. 1450.

Scientists analyzed hair samples of 56 mummies preserved either in the ground or in a stony environment created for them. They remained in good condition due to the high temperatures, extreme dryness and the high soil salinity of the Atacama Desert. Thirty-five of the mummies evidently consumed nicotine regularly.

Researched gauged their social status by the number of objects in their tomb—“jewelry, weapons, ceramic objects, raw metals, textiles, vases and various snuffing paraphernalia, including mortars, trays and tubes,” Yahoo reported.

The results, which will be published in the October issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, suggest people of all social and wealth statuses in the San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, prior to Hispanic population, regularly used nicotine for hundreds of years, said study co-author Hermann Niemeyer, an organic chemist at the University of Chile in Santiago.


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