Cave holds first evidence of humans taking hallucinogens

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Ricky Joseph

Before going into a trance with natural hallucinogens, the indigenous Californians probably gathered in a cave to gaze up toward the rocky ceiling. That's the place where a windmill and a big-eyed moth were painted red.

According to a new study, the mysterious windmill is a representation of the delicate white flower of Datura wrightii a powerful hallucinogen that the Chumash people took not only for ceremonial purposes. Apparently, it was also used for medicinal and supernatural purposes.

The mariposa, on the other hand, is a species of hawk moth, known for its intoxicated and "crazy" flight after swallowing the nectar of Datura , the researchers said.

Natural hallucinogens from a flower

Chewed globes that humans stuck to the cave ceiling provided more evidence of these ancient journeys.That is, these lumps up to 400 years old, known as pounds, had the mind-altering drugs.The drugs are scopolamine and atropine found in Datura as the researchers reported.

Datura wrightii. (denisenv / iNaturalist / CC-BY-ND )

Thus, the discovery marks the first clear evidence of hallucinogen ingestion at a rock art site. In this case, at Pinwheel Cave, California, they wrote in the study.

However, possibly the artists were not altered yet when they drew this art. "It's extremely unlikely because of the debilitating effects of Datura," lead researcher David Robinson told Live Science.

Just like artwork and religious objects in a church, these cave paintings set a scene and helped people about to enter a trance in understanding the power of the flower. There was also a shared tradition of taking the natural hallucinogens in that particular cave, he said.

Coming of age ceremony

Archaeologists learned about the cave paintings in 1999. That was when workers at Wild Wolves Preserve, a nature reserve about 145 kilometers northeast of Santa Barbara (United States) found the weathervane and the insect painted with ochre. Ochre, in turn, is a reddish mineral used in rock art around the world.

A moth like the white-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata), was also depicted in the cave. (xpda / iNaturalist / CC-BY-SA-4.0 )

At first glance, the design of the weathervane does not look much like a flower of Datura but any botanist would say otherwise. datura , also known as jimsonweed and angel's trumpet, unfurls at dusk and dawn, when pollinated by insects. But during the heat of the day, it twitches.

So, is it possible that this painting represents a flower of Datura They already knew of the custom of the Chumash people to use it for ceremonies and in daily life, according to historical descriptions from anthropological works.

Historians think that Datura was used to obtain supernatural power by medicating, neutralizing negative events, and warding off ghosts. In addition to a medicine for a variety of ailments. It was also put into a tea called toloache for coming of age ceremonies for boys and girls. They took the trance-inducing plant when marking their entry into adulthood.

Study published in the journal PNAS .

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.