Home Discoveries This 1000-Year-Old Pouch Validates South American Shamans Hallucinogen Stash

This 1000-Year-Old Pouch Validates South American Shamans Hallucinogen Stash

The latest discovery of a leather bag containing ritual items on the Andes Mountains now sheds more light on the hallucinatory activities of South American shamans, as far back as 1000 years ago.

Image source: sciencenews (Juan V. Albarracin-Jordan and José M. Capriles)

The radiocarbon-dated leather bag was found to contain artifacts like; a hand-stitched pouch made from three fox snouts. Melanie Miller, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand said that analysis of chemical traces which emanated from the bag indicates mind-altering elements known to be derived from at least three plants.

Other residual chemicals found in the pouch include a couple of vision-inducing concoctions which native South American ritualists refer to as ‘ayahuasca’.

According to a scientific report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the first week of May, the cocaine residue found in the fox pouch suggests that it also contained cocoa leaves at the time it was abandoned.

Researchers discovered the ritual packet in an ancient shelter built on Bolivian rock called Cueva del Chileno. Aside from the fox pouch, the leather bag also contained some powdery substances, a pair of llama-bone spatulas, a couple of carved wooden tablets apparently used for snuffing, a woven band suggested to serve as a headband, a carved snuffing tube and two pieces of dry plants strapped to wool and fiber strings.

According to researchers, the content of the bag suggests a pre-Columbian Andean city known as Tiwanaku. Like many others of Andean and Amazonian origin, Tiwanaku shamans are capable of communicating with sacred supernatural beings and ancestors through physical and mental means.

Scientists found out that; at least a-thousand-year-ago, Andean shamans obtained plants to prepare ‘ayahuasca’ in the form of powder or drink, by traveling or buying through a trade network. Till date, no other evidence of ‘ayahuasca’ at the Bolivian site has been found.


M.J. Miller et alChemical evidence for the use of multiple psychotropic plants in a 1,000-year-old ritual bundle from South AmericaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published online the week of May 6, 2019. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1902174116.

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