Revealed! Stone Age Stoners

By Dirk Hanson 04/09/11

You think it started with you? Ceramic bowls and sniffing tubes prove that some drug habits are positively prehistoric.

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Prehistoric dugout.
Photo via azarius.

Archeologists have never doubted that prehistoric man liked to get high. Previous excavations in Mexico and Texas have yielded evidence that New Worlders were using drugs like peyote and certain mushrooms several thousand years ago. However, researcher Quetta Kaye of University College, London, says she has found the actual remains of ceramic inhaling bowls in the Caribbean that were "likely used for the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances," and that may date back to 400 B.C. The researchers dated the find using a technique called luminescence dating, which measures light energy trapped in the structure of the ceramic bowls and sniffing tubes found on the Caribbean island of Carriacou. According to Discover online, the drug paraphernalia existed “several centuries before the island was first inhabited—meaning the bowls were brought by settlers from South America or neighboring islands, and were already heirlooms when they made the trip.” The bowls and tubes were evidently important possessions, as they were found “amidst much younger deposits, a sign that they were valued possessions passed down from generation to generation. “They were used for consuming hallucinogenic substances…and played a part in important rituals.”

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]