SPAIN: New research says that some 3,000 years ago, people in Spain were using hallucinogenic drugs to get high. Scientists say that hair from a burial site in Menorca shows that people in the past used medicines made from plants and berries. It’s thought to be the earliest direct instance of drug use in Europe. The researchers discovered that they would have caused delirium and hallucinations.
The study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, found signs that people had been in the Es Càrritx cave on the southwest coast of Menorca.
More than 200 human graves can be found in the cave, which is thought to have been used for religious and funerary purposes for around 600 years, up until 800 BCE.
Researchers think that the drugs, which could have been very strong, may have been used in ceremonies in the cave. Shamans “who were capable of controlling the side effects of the plant drugs” may have been involved in these.
Three psychoactive compounds were found when the locks, which had turned red during the ancient rites and may have been touched by more than one person, were looked at.
Researchers also discovered ephedrine, which increases energy and alertness, along with the hallucinogens atropine and scopolamine.
Researchers also highlighted that jugs with spiral carvings on their lids had been discovered in the cave. Some academics have seen this as a person’s “altered states of consciousness” when they are on hallucinogens, the paper said.
Previous claims that people used drugs in prehistoric Europe were based on pieces of evidence like paintings of plants that were used to make drugs.
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