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      The oldest archeological data evidencing the relationship of Homo sapiens with psychoactive plants: A worldwide overview

      1 , * ,
      Journal of Psychedelic Studies
      Akadémiai Kiadó
      archeology, archeobotany, psychoactive plants, oldest find

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          Modern sophisticated archeometric instruments are increasingly capable of detecting the presence of psychoactive plant sources in archeological contexts, testifying the antiquity of humanity’s search for altered states of consciousness. The purpose of this article is to provide a general picture of these findings, covering the main psychoactive plant sources of the world, and identifying the most ancient dates so far evidenced by archeology. This review is based on the archeological literature identifying the presence of psychoactive plant sources, relying on original research documents. The research produced two main results: (a) a systematization of the types of archeological evidence that testify the relationship between Homo sapiens and these psychoactive sources, subdivided into direct evidence (i.e., material findings, chemical, and genetic) and indirect evidence (i.e., anthropophysical, iconographic, literary, and paraphernalia); and (b) producing a list of the earliest known dates of the relationship of H. sapiens with the main psychoactive plant sources. There appears to be a general diffusion of the use of plant drugs from at least the Neolithic period (for the Old World) and the pre-Formative period (for the Americas). These dates should not to be understood as the first use of these materials, instead they refer to the oldest dates currently determined by either direct or indirect archeological evidence. Several of these dates are likely to be modified back in time by future excavations and finds.

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          Fermented beverages of pre- and proto-historic China.

          Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed into pottery jars from the early Neolithic village of Jiahu in Henan province in China have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit (hawthorn fruit and/or grape) was being produced as early as the seventh millennium before Christ (B.C.). This prehistoric drink paved the way for unique cereal beverages of the proto-historic second millennium B.C., remarkably preserved as liquids inside sealed bronze vessels of the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties. These findings provide direct evidence for fermented beverages in ancient Chinese culture, which were of considerable social, religious, and medical significance, and help elucidate their earliest descriptions in the Shang Dynasty oracle inscriptions.
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            Multiple origins of cultivated grapevine (Vitis vinifera L. ssp. sativa) based on chloroplast DNA polymorphisms.

            The domestication of the Eurasian grape (Vitis vinifera ssp. sativa) from its wild ancestor (Vitis vinifera ssp. sylvestris) has long been claimed to have occurred in Transcaucasia where its greatest genetic diversity is found and where very early archaeological evidence, including grape pips and artefacts of a 'wine culture', have been excavated. Whether from Transcaucasia or the nearby Taurus or Zagros Mountains, it is hypothesized that this wine culture spread southwards and eventually westwards around the Mediterranean basin, together with the transplantation of cultivated grape cuttings. However, the existence of morphological differentiation between cultivars from eastern and western ends of the modern distribution of the Eurasian grape suggests the existence of different genetic contribution from local sylvestris populations or multilocal selection and domestication of sylvestris genotypes. To tackle this issue, we analysed chlorotype variation and distribution in 1201 samples of sylvestris and sativa genotypes from the whole area of the species' distribution and studied their genetic relationships. The results suggest the existence of at least two important origins for the cultivated germplasm, one in the Near East and another in the western Mediterranean region, the latter of which gave rise to many of the current Western European cultivars. Indeed, over 70% of the Iberian Peninsula cultivars display chlorotypes that are only compatible with their having derived from western sylvestris populations.
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              Cacao domestication I: the origin of the cacao cultivated by the Mayas.

              Criollo cacao (Theobroma cacao ssp. cacao) was cultivated by the Mayas over 1500 years ago. It has been suggested that Criollo cacao originated in Central America and that it evolved independently from the cacao populations in the Amazon basin. Cacao populations from the Amazon basin are included in the second morphogeographic group: Forastero, and assigned to T. cacao ssp. sphaerocarpum. To gain further insight into the origin and genetic basis of Criollo cacao from Central America, RFLP and microsatellite analyses were performed on a sample that avoided mixing pure Criollo individuals with individuals classified as Criollo but which might have been introgressed with Forastero genes. We distinguished these two types of individuals as Ancient and Modern Criollo. In contrast to previous studies, Ancient Criollo individuals formerly classified as 'wild', were found to form a closely related group together with Ancient Criollo individuals from South America. The Ancient Criollo trees were also closer to Colombian-Ecuadorian Forastero individuals than these Colombian-Ecuadorian trees were to other South American Forastero individuals. RFLP and microsatellite analyses revealed a high level of homozygosity and significantly low genetic diversity within the Ancient Criollo group. The results suggest that the Ancient Criollo individuals represent the original Criollo group. The results also implies that this group does not represent a separate subspecies and that it probably originated from a few individuals in South America that may have been spread by man within Central America.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Psychedelic Studies
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                28 March 2019
                : 1-18
                [ 1 ] Ethnobotanist, Independent Researcher , Bologna, Italy
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding address: Giorgio Samorini; Ethnobotanist, Independent Researcher, Via del Porto 42, 40122 Bologna, Italy; E-mail: giorgio@ 123456samorini.it
                © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

                : 07 January 2019
                : 21 February 2019
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 166, Pages: 18
                ORIGINAL ARTICLE

                Evolutionary Biology,Medicine,Psychology,Educational research & Statistics,Social & Behavioral Sciences
                psychoactive plants,archeology,archeobotany,oldest find


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