A team of archeologists discovered a pouch containing five psychotropic substances, including cocaine and ayahuasca, during an excavation of a Bolivian cave in 2010.
Though the discovery occurred years ago, PNAS finally published the findings on May 6th, 2019. According to José Capriles, a Penn State University anthropologist and author of the paper detailing the discovery, the pouch likely belonged to an Andean shaman over a thousand years ago.
As noted by The National Geographic, the pouch may serve as the “world’s earliest archaeological evidence for the consumption of ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant preparation indigenous to peoples of the Amazon basin that produces potent hallucinations.”
According to Capriles, shaman were “ritual specialist(s) who could intermediate between supernatural deities and the ‘real world’ by consuming these substances.”
Shaman utilized these substances to connect with the unseen world, as well as guide others through their own. “Far from engaging with them for entertainment purposes, these plants provided people with the opportunities to interact with more subtle aspects of life.”
This discovery is of special interest as the practice of micro-dosing for therapeutic benefit has emerged in public consciousness, thanks to a bevy of anecdotal claims and this recent research study. There’s even a book featured in The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2018 about the controversial topic.
Check out the following video to learn more about the role of modern shamans and the practice of psychedelic-aided healing.