Native Americans smoked at least 1150 years ago

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  • Published: Jan 10, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Base Peak
thumbnail image: Native Americans smoked at least 1150 years ago

Tobacco smoking was part of the Native American culture in the southern Pacific Northwest Coast in AD 860, which is soon after the first recorded plank house villages, say researchers in the US. Shannon Tushingham and colleagues from UC Davis analysed the residues from a complete stone pipe and 15 pipe fragments from two villages in northwestern California, as they described in Journal of Archaeological Science.

A GC/MS analysis of the residues revealed many different compounds, including nicotine which is a marker of tobacco use. Nicotine was found in six of the artifacts, four being excavated from the floor of a men's plank sweathouse dated 1850-1890, which confirms ethnohistoric use of tobacco. The remaining two positive fragments were dated from their sorroundings to AD 1230 and AD 860.

The Pacific Northwest Coast is an area in which "the antiquity of tobacco smoking was, until now, completely unknown." Now, it has been proven to be "part of the plank house dwelling Athabascan culture in the southern Pacific Northwest Coast very early in time."

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