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Absorbed Residue Evidence for Prehistoric Datura Use in the American Southeast and Western Mexico

  • Adam King (a1), Terry G. Powis (a2), Kong F. Cheong (a3), Bobi Deere (a4), Robert B. Pickering (a5), Eric Singleton (a6) and Nilesh W. Gaikwad (a7)...

Abstract

Absorbed residue studies have been used in subsistence research for decades. Only more recently have the chemical methods employed been used to explore the consumption of ritual concoctions such as those including cacao, yaupon holly, and alcohol. In this article we use mass spectrometry to identify Datura residues in prehistoric contexts from western Mexico and the American Southeast. Datura is a genus of flowering plants that contain hallucinogenic alkaloids. Their use in both regions is known historically and still continues today. This study sampled 55 pottery vessels and 18 shell vessels using both a traditional burr method and a water-based sonicator sampling method. Datura residues were found in 13 pottery vessels and 14 shell vessels using both sampling approaches. These results demonstrate that it is possible to identify Datura residue in pottery and shell vessels and that the use of Datura extends back into prehistory in both regions. The form and decoration of pottery vessels with Datura residues show correlations with specific motifs and themes. Historically, shell vessels were used in the Southeast for the consumption of another ritual beverage, called the Black Drink. The presence of Datura shows that those vessels were used for other kinds of beverages as well.

Los estudios de residuos absorbidos han sido utilizado en la investigación de la subsistencia durante décadas. Sólo más recientemente se han utilizado los métodos químicos empleados en estos estudios para explorar el consumo de brebajes rituales tales como los que incluyen cacao, acebo de Yaupon, y alcohol. En este trabajo se utiliza la espectrometría de masas para identificar los residuos de Datura en contextos prehistóricos del oeste de México y el sureste de Estados Unidos. Datura es un género de plantas florecientes que contiene alcaloides alucinógenos. Su uso en ambas regiones es documentado históricamente y continúa en el presente. Para este estudio se analizaron muestras de 55 vasijas de cerámica y 18 vasijas de concha utilizando tanto el método tradicional de rebaba como el método de muestreo en baño de sonicación con agua. Residuos de Datura fueron encontrados en 13 vasijas de cerámica y 14 vasijas de concha utilizando los dos sistemas de muestreo. Estos resultados demuestran que es posible identificar los residuos de Datura en vasijas de cerámica y concha y que el uso de Datura se remonta a la prehistoria en ambas regiones. La forma y decoración de las vasijas de cerámica con restos de Datura muestran correlaciones con motivos y temas específicos. Históricamente, se utilizaron vasijas de concha en el Sureste para el consumo de otra bebida ritual, llamada la Bebida Negra. La presencia de Datura muestra que las vasijas se utilizaron también para otras bebidas.

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