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Seeds from 12,300 years ago prove the oldest use of tobacco

2021-10-13T08:52:28.098Z

The use of tobacco is older than expected: this is demonstrated by some charred seeds found among the remains of a hearth lit 12,300 years ago by some hunters from North America (ANSA)



The use of tobacco is older than expected: this is demonstrated by some charred seeds found among the remains of a hearth lit 12,300 years ago by some North American hunters, even before the advent of agriculture.

The discovery, which dates back to the use of this plant by at least 9,000 years, is described in the journal Nature Human Behavior by researchers from the Far Western Anthropological Research Group.

During an excavation campaign in Utah, at the Wishbone site, researchers found the remains of a hearth surrounded by stone and bone artifacts usually used for hunting large prey. When the findings were brought to the laboratory for analysis, a botanist on the team noticed four burnt tobacco seeds, but they were too small to be directly dated. Investigations conducted on other coal samples have however allowed us to establish that the fire had been lit approximately 12,300 years ago. It is difficult to say how the seeds ended up there, considering that tobacco could only grow miles away from the place of discovery.According to experts, it is to be excluded that the seeds could have been transported in the stomachs of ducks and other birds (whose bones were found at the archaeological site), because the tobacco plant is toxic and is not ingested by animals. The plant is also unlikely to have been used to fuel the fire, as it has little wood material. The most plausible hypothesis is that the tobacco was chewed by hunters, who then spat the seeds into the fire. It cannot be ruled out that it was smoked, although the earliest direct evidence of this habit was found in some pipes dating back to about 3,000 years ago.since it has little wood material. The most plausible hypothesis is that the tobacco was chewed by hunters, who then spat the seeds into the fire. It cannot be ruled out that it was smoked, although the earliest direct evidence of this habit was found in some pipes dating back to about 3,000 years ago.since it has little wood material. The most plausible hypothesis is that the tobacco was chewed by hunters, who then spat the seeds into the fire. It cannot be ruled out that it was smoked, although the earliest direct evidence of this habit was found in some pipes dating back to about 3,000 years ago.

Source: ansa

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