The Maya and Tobacco

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The Maya and Tobacco

The Maya - one of the greatest civilizations ever, was meant to leave a trace in the world's history. Their stone towns, profound knowledge of astronomy and many other monuments they left behind are still waiting for decryption.

However one of their most favorite pastimes was smoking or even drinking tobacco. Yes, they knew the secret of smoking a strong mind-blowing tobacco and even drinking it. Some historians assumed their tobacco smoke was so strong it could even cause hallucinations. That's why it is so hard sometimes to decipher the inscriptions they left on stones. :)

First tobacco traces that could be chemically analyzed were found out in a small ancient vessel of Maya origin going back as far as 1300 years old and had the word "tobacco" on it.

It is presumed that though the vessel could contain tobacco leaves, the Maya were also using tobacco powder from which they prepared strong alcoholic beverages, snuff tobacco and even use it as antidote for snakebite.

The tobacco of that time was much stronger than the one we are smoking now. The "nicotiana rustica" was able to cause hallucinations and could be also used against bug and snake bites.

While archaeologists already had textual and pictorial evidences that the Maya smoked cigars in big pipes and even early cigars (!), the tobacco remnants in the flask were the first evidence to be chemically analyzed.

I feel proud that this great civilization we never had the honour to observe and live in their time became a little closer to us - they also smoked cigars or whatever, and were people like us. Just maybe a little smarter and confident of their beliefs than we are :)

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