Mammoths Roamed when Humans Started Using Tobacco at Least 12,300 Years Ago

A family established camp in the marshy, verdant area of northwestern Utah 12300 years ago. They had walked 60 miles to reach their destination, probably lured by the promise that they would hunt big game such as mammoths or camelsand. There was also plenty of duck to sustain them between hunts. They made a fire and cut a few birds with sharp, flaked stones. After they finished their meal they had some tobacco.
This scenario is the one that archeologists have found in a handful of 12,300-year old tobacco seeds. They were discovered from an ancient hearth and they describe October 11 in Nature Human Behaviour. This discovery pushes back by 9,000 years the date of first known tobacco use. It also suggests that humans discovered a love for the intoxicant plant soon after arriving in Americascurrently estimated to be 13,000 to 16,000 year ago. The seeds discovery provides a rare glimpse into ancient human habits and shows how little has changed over the millennia.

Daron Duke, principal at the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Henderson, Nev and the lead author of the study, said that it was easy to imagine them using tobacco fireside. It is very common to drink.

Tobacco is just one of many natural products, which include alcohol, tobacco, and many other psychedelic and fungal plants. At the time of their arrival in America, people didn't have access to the intoxicants they had previously chosen from Asia. They quickly began looking at the local flora and discovered that it contained attractive properties beyond food. Duke claims that tobacco was a part of their daily lives once they had discovered it.

The earliest evidence of tobacco use dates back to around 3,300 years ago. This was based on residue from pipes used for smoking in the southeast U.S. Duke says that it is extremely difficult to find ancient clues of this kind.

Duke spent 20 years exploring the Great Salt Lake Desert's chalky white desert. He relied on luck and wind-whipped erosion to find evidence of ancient humans at the Wishbone site, which archeologists call "Wishbone". He and his colleagues discovered their most remarkable find in 2015: a small, black smudge with some stray bird bones. Duke said it was an excellent ringer for an old hearth. It was found with tools and duck bones around the hearth, which suggests that it was probably used only for a few nights.

The hearth would also set records as the first open-air feature of its kind in the desert. But the contents were even more amazing. After bagging up the sediment from the hearth and bringing it back to the lab, the researchers used a method called manual flotationessentially, submerging the mixture in waterto separate the organic from the nonorganic material. They found the remains of four tobacco seed seeds charred from that mixture. The entire contents of the hearth, including the seeds, were also radiocarbon-dated using willow charcoal.

Duke and his associates don't know how the tobacco was used. However, they think it could have been chewed or smoked. Because it was not found in the marshy areas where the hearth was constructed, tobacco would not have been used to make the fire. Researchers found seeds in the bird's stomachs, which were likely not leftovers from their last meal. An analysis showed that the seeds mostly contained pondweed, which is the preferred food of ducks. The team also found a few other kinds of seeds at the hearth, which have been linked to ancient human consumption. This suggests that the people who built it likely brought along important plants. Duke said that the profile of seeds is very cultural.

It is not surprising, in many ways, that tobacco was used thousands of years ago by people, according to Leilani Lucas, an Anthropologist at the College of Southern Nevada who wasn't involved in the research. It becomes even more fascinating when you consider the intoxicant properties of tobacco and its cultural significance. This is not surprising considering that domestication of plants may have been partly driven by cultural preferences for plants with interesting effects on the mind and body.

This finding is significant because it provides conclusive evidence of early usage.

Stephen Carmody, an Alabama anthropologist, said that the paper and the research it presents are compelling and compelling. It also forces us to rethink our old narratives. He says that tobacco was an important plant used by indigenous peoples in the past. It is still of great importance today.

Duke says that the greatest botanists were the indigenous people. They were able to solve problems.