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Did hallucinogenic booze fuel politics in ancient Peru? – National Geographic

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A discovery in a 1,100-year-old Wari outpost suggests that powerful, communal intoxicants may have helped foster alliances.
The peaceful, easy feeling derived from a mix of hallucinogenic drugs and alcoholic drink may have been a key to political power in coastal Peru a millennium ago, according to a study published today in the journal Antiquity.
Archaeologists have long recognized the role that chicha, a beer-like beverage still consumed today, played in the culture of the Wari who ruled much of the Peruvian coast and southern Andes between around A.D. 600 and 1000. Wari elites would host elaborate parties for their neighbors, and copious amounts of chicha would help foster political and economic ties.
Now, the discovery of psychotropic plant remains in a Wari “brewery” is leading researchers to suggest that the Wari may have also combined the two intoxicants for a brew with an even bigger political punch.
Read more on how alcohol has fueled the development of arts, language, and religion.
The discovery was made at the site of Quilcapampa, a Wari village in southern Peru, where the extremely arid environment preserved the remains of what the residents ate and drank just before abandoning the site in the late ninth century A.D. Here, archaeologists found 1,100-year-old traces of potatoes, quinoa, and peanuts, as well as a staggering number of berry-like fruits from the molle (Schinus mole) tree, which the Wari often used to make chicha with an alcohol content of roughly 5 percent.
Among the soaked or boiled fruits left over from making chicha were psychotropic vilca seeds from the Anadenanthera colubrina tree. Archaeological evidence shows vilca was used as a hallucinogen in ancient South America, but usually only by political and religious elites, says National Geographic Explorer Justin Jennings, an archaeologist at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the lead author of the study, which was funded in part by National Geographic.
Quilcapampa was settled late in the ninth century by a handful of migrant families from the Wari heartlands farther north along the coast and mountains, and they may have introduced the practice of combining vilca and chicha to strengthen their new alliances with non-Wari groups in the region. And if mixing vilca and chicha helped the villagers of Quilcapampa make friends in a strange land, it might also be the secret to the political ascent of the Wari.
See the reconstructed face of an ancient Wari queen.
“What the Wari did was say, ‘We’re going to combine these… and when we put them together, we’re going to have this shared experience,’” Jennings adds.
Like the Amazonian drug ayahuasca, vilca results in an intense out-of-body experience. Its psychoactive effects are drastically weakened when it’s ingested, and so its seeds were usually smoked or ground into snuff. But there is a chemical reason for thinking that adding ground vilca seeds to chicha made from molle retains more of their hallucinogenic effect, Jennings explains.
“You were able to have a trip, an out-of-body experience to a degree, but it was a longer, smoother, and less violent experience,” he said. “You were able to have that sense of going somewhere, of tripping out, but with friends.”
While the molle tree used for chicha grew nearby Quilcapampa, the vilca seeds would have had to be imported from the eastern flanks of the Andes and carried over the mountains by Wari-controlled llama caravans. That meant the Wari village at Quilcapampa might have been popular gathering center in the region, boasting a chicha with a punch like no other.
The idea might explain a political secret of the Wari, whose painted drinking vessels sometimes portray the vilca tree with its distinctive seed pods.
Véronique Bélisle is an anthropological archaeologist at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, who was not involved in the Quilcapampa study but has researched the use of hallucinogens in ancient Peru. She said it was long suspected that the Wari consumed vilca by adding it to chicha, but there had been no archaeological evidence until now.
“This research makes an important contribution to Andean archaeology by showing that Wari colonists organized feasts during which they served chicha mixed with vilca to their guests,” Bélisle writes in an email.
But not all archaeologists are convinced. Curator Ryan Williams of the Field Museum in Chicago, who has excavated the ruins of a Wari ceremonial center at Cerro Baúl, about 100 miles to the southeast, finds the hypothesis “intriguing” but says the evidence for consumption of vilca and chica together is currently lacking. Williams gives an example of finding cotton seeds in an ancient molle brewery at Cerro Baúl. “But we didn’t assert the Wari were drinking cotton [chica],” he notes in an email.
Jennings admits there is no direct evidence that vilca was mixed with molle chicha at Quilcapampa, only that both were found in the same archaeological deposits. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the smoking gun,” he said. Further studies will look for evidence of vilca in chicha residues in the remains of Wari cups and serving vessels. “That’s something that we’d love to do, in order to make a stronger case that vilca and molle were added into the same vessel,” Jennings says.
The National Geographic Society, committed to illuminating and protecting the wonder of our world, funded Explorer Justin Jennings’s work. Learn more about the Society’s support of Explorers working to inspire, educate, and better understand human history and cultures.
Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic SocietyCopyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

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Muhammad Mubeen Hassan

Hi. I am Muhammad Mubeen Hassan. I am SEO Expat and WordPress Websites Developer &  Blogger. 30 years old. I help entrepreneurs become go-to in their industry. And, I like helping the next one in line. You can follow my journey on my blog, for list Click Here If you need any post so you can email me on my this Email: mubeenh782@gmail.com  

Hi. I am Muhammad Mubeen Hassan. I am SEO Expat and Wordpress Websites Developer &  Blogger. 30 years old. I help entrepreneurs become go-to in their industry. And, I like helping the next one in line. You can follow my journey on my blog, for list Click Here If you need any post so you can email me on my this Email: mubeenh782@gmail.com  

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Realm Scans: Navigating the Uncharted Territories of Digital Discovery

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In the expansive landscape of digital exploration, there exists a realm where information becomes an adventure—Realm Scans. Beyond a mere scanning service, this digital haven is where curiosity converges with innovation, and the uncharted territories of digital discovery come to life. Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the unique dynamics of Realm Scans, navigating through the realms where information is not just scanned but transformed into a digital odyssey.

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“Digital Horizons: Exploring the Essence of Realm Scans” is not just an article; it’s an ode to the tech enthusiasts, the information seekers, and the digital explorers who recognize the profound impact of a scanning service that goes beyond the surface. It’s an acknowledgment that in the realms of digital discovery, Realm Scans stands as a beacon, inviting users to embrace the transformative power of information in the digital age.

As Realm Scans continues to redefine the digital scanning landscape, “Digital Horizons” invites us to appreciate the nuances of a service that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary—an exploration where every scan is not just a document but a digital adventure waiting to be unfolded.

Harry Clam

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