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Ogalde JP, Arriaza BT, Soto EC. 
“Identification of psychoactive alkaloids in ancient Andean human hair by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry”. 
Journal of Archaeological Science. 2009;36:467-472.
Various ethnographic sources have demonstrated the symbolic and ritualistic importance of psychoactive plants in Native American societies. The social milieu of these mind altering plants appears to be ancient. Archaeological evidence during the Tiwanaku empire expansion along the Atacama Desert of Chile, circa (500-1000 A.D.), shows the presence of highly decorated snuffing tablets and tubes as grave goods. The preservation of mummified human bodies in the Azapa Valley, northern Chile, provided an opportunity to test the exact nature of the psychoactive plants used in this region. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and here we show that ancient Andean populations from northern of Chile consumed Banisteriopsis, a vine that contains harmine. This is the first direct archaeological evidence of hallucinogenic and medicinal ethnographic practices. Interestingly enough, this rain forest plant does not grow along the Atacama coast, thus, our findings suggest extensive plant trade networks in antiquity as far as the Amazon.
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