The Storyteller by Martin Pate

Oldest Known Evidence of Tobacco Use in North America Found in Ice Age Hunting Camp

(Read the article on one page)

An Ice Age Hunting Camp replete with the bird bones and tobacco has been found in Utah, USA. It is the oldest known evidence of tobacco use found so far.

According to Western Digs , the discovery took a place in the dead-flat desert of northwestern Utah, USA, where archaeologists uncovered the remnants of an Ice Age site. It has been hidden only a few centimeters below the surface. During the excavations, researchers discovered a campground used by the prehistoric hunter-gatherers 12,300 years ago.

The site contained artifacts, including the charred remains of an ancient hearth, a finely crafted spear point, and, most surprisingly, a collection of tobacco seeds. It is the oldest known evidence of tobacco use in North America. According to Dr. Daron Duke, senior archaeologist with the Nevada-based  Far Western Anthropological Research Group , the most interesting part of the discovery is that there is no direct evidence that people used tobacco past 3,000 years ago, but this research proved its use more than 12,000 years ago.

Tobacco seeds (representational image only)

Tobacco seeds (representational image only). Credit: Hula Girl Store

The discovery was accomplished due to the remote reaches of U.S. Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range , a proving grounds in the salt flats west of Salt Lake City. The first exploration took place in 2015, and in the early stage was focused on thousands of acres of the range that had never been explored before. The researchers returned this summer and decided to excavate a specific part of the site.

After the first week of excavations, archeologists found a collection of over 60 items. Apart from the spear tip and seeds (spear 8-10 cm long, used for hunting birds), archeologists unearthed many stone flakes left over during the process of making tools. The bones of geese and ducks allowed the identification of what hunters ate in the Ice Age.

In 2015, Duke also reported a staggering array of more than 1,000 large stone points. The area contained traces of mammoth residue, providing the first evidence of mammoth hunting in the Great Basin. The tools discovered in the area were also dated back to the Ice Age, when the temperature was around 10 – 15 degrees cooler on average than now. The research in the desert of Utah will be continued.

 

In 2015, the research team found evidence of mammoth hunting

In 2015, the research team found evidence of mammoth hunting ( public domain )

However, the most important part of the discovery is the evidence of tobacco in such an early period in history. Researchers try to explore the history of drug use in many parts of the world. As Mark Miller from Ancient Origins wrote:

''Neanderthals on speed 60,000 years ago; Paleolithic art inspired by psilocybin or  Amanita muscaria  mushroom trips; and alcohol-fueled religious worship all over the world down through the ages – these are just some of the drug-taking behaviors reported in a new research paper which looked at decades of archaeological evidence to see how prevalent the use of psychoactive substances and other reality-bending practices was in prehistory. The paper also explores the link between religion and hallucinogens, stimulants, alcoholic beverages and other substances.

Elisa Guerra-Doce, an archaeologist at the University of Valladolid in Spain, says that altered states of consciousness were very nearly ubiquitous in societies throughout prehistory and history. An anthropologist who studied 488 human societies published a paper in 1973 that said 437 or 90 percent of them reportedly incorporated altered states of consciousness (ASC) into their fundamental belief systems.

People also apparently got high on opium as the poppy was domesticated in the western Mediterranean 8,000 years ago; the mildly stimulating (among other benefits) coca leaves for tea and chewing in South America from at least 6,000 B.C.; cannabis (marijuana) in central Asia 7,000 years ago and hallucinogenic nightshade all over the world as long ago as 5,000 years. There were tobacco in the New World 4,000 years ago, hallucinogenic yopo snuff from the New World more than 4,000 years ago, and hallucinogenic mushrooms from various places and times around the world.''

Top image: The Storyteller by  Martin Pate  (Courtesy, Southeast Archeological Center, National Park Service)

By Natalia Klimzcak

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

Open Book Photo
A legend is a tale regarded as historical even though it has not been proven, and the term “myth” can refer to common yet false ideas. Many myths and legends describe our history, but they are often treated skeptically. This is because many of them, while explaining a phenomenon, involve divine or supernatural beings.

Human Origins

Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot
The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to Gordon Childe, however, the predominant racial element in the earliest graves in the region from Elam to the Danube is the ‘Mediterranean’.

Ancient Technology

Invention of Wheel - Sumer
In today’s world, technology is developing at an unprecedented rate. The latest gadget today is tomorrow’s antique. As a result of this rapid development of technology, we often take things for...

Ancient Places

Google Earth image of manmade stone structures in Saudi Arabia
Deep in the heart of Saudi Arabia, 400 peculiar stone structures have been found, dating back thousands of years ago. These stone features were discovered by archaeologists with the use of satellite imagery, identifying what they call stone "gates" in an extremely unwelcome and harsh area of the Arabian Peninsula.

Opinion

The ancient and mysterious Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
In 1995, NBC televised a prime-time documentary hosted by actor Charlton Heston and directed by Bill Cote, called Mystery of the Sphinx. The program centered on the research and writings of John Anthony West, a (non-academic) Egyptologist, who, along with Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology at Boston University, made an astounding discovery on the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article