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View Poll Results: What was the cause of cocaine traces in Egyptian mummies?
Direct trade between Egypt and the Americas? 1 4.17%
Indirect trade between Egypt and the Americas by other nations? 9 37.50%
The toxicology samples were contaminated? 14 58.33%
Voters: 24. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 22nd, 2017, 01:37 PM   #21

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Originally Posted by Dan Howard View Post
It takes two minutes of basic research to debunk this nonsense. The cocaine alkaloid that has been allegedly detected in Egyptian relics never existed until it was isolated by Friedrich Gaedcke in 1855, so obviously it was introduced to Egypt after this date. If there was any contact between Egypt and the Americas then one would expect to see evidence of the coca plant itself, not the extracted and processed chemical.
Yes, I wonder why we have still to discuss this ... there is a magical word: contamination.

My niece is going to join scientific police [C.S.I.] and one of their main concern is just contamination.

How were those mummies handled? In which circumstances? By whom? And so on ...

Can we exclude contamination?

No? So, what are we talking about?
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Old December 22nd, 2017, 02:57 PM   #22

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Anyone who can't be bothered to learn the simplest principals of chemistry have no business in these kinds of discussions. The semi-literate, barely educated conspiracy theorists have retarded scientific progress for decades.

Last edited by Dan Howard; December 22nd, 2017 at 03:15 PM.
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Old December 22nd, 2017, 03:39 PM   #23

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Originally Posted by unclefred View Post
The contamination claim is simply dissembling and doesn't hold up to scrutiny. I voted for no. 2.
The original folks who ran the tests tested a number of mummies, and some of the drugs are within the hair shafts. Cannabis is in lungs, iirc. They could have used pot in incense --they knew about opium of course. If contamination isn't the culprit then some have suggested the breakdown of available chemicals to mimic nicotine and cocaine, but I've never seen how that could be chemically possible. Apparently there is a shrub in Africa that can provide the nicotine. The cocaine? An extinct plant? I just can't see how so many mummies could have the chemical in their hair shafts and lungs just from contamination.. But, there is no evidence of direct contact, and distant trade through intermediary trade networks is unprovable thus far. I just dunno.
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Old December 22nd, 2017, 03:51 PM   #24

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Here is the defense of the methodology from a link earlier posted. Again I don't believe in contact, but I don't know what to believe. Probably some extinct plants?

American Drugs in Egyptian Mummies




Reply to the Critics


Analytical Techniques and Contamination




“In the study, samples were taken from nine mummies that were dated from between 1070 B.C. to 395 A.D. The samples including hair, skin and muscle were taken from the head and abdomen. Bone tissue was also taken from the skull. All tissues were pulverized and dissolved in NaCl solution, homogenized, and centrifuged. A portion of the supernatant was extracted with chloroform and dried and then dissolved in a phosphate buffer. Samples were then measured by both radioimmunoassay (Merck; Biermann) and gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (Hewlett Packard) - hereinafter GCMS. “

“This is the procedure used to produce what McPhillips (1998) considered indisputable evidence for confirming products of substance abuse in hair. Within recent years, hair analysis has been used more commonly in this kind of screening process and the techniques employed have been optimized. Mistakes are known to have occurred in some cases evaluating for metals, but the ability to detect drugs such as cocaine, nicotine, and hashish seem not been problematic (Wilhelm, 1996). The two possible mistakes in analyzing hair for drugs include false positives, which are caused by environmental contamination; and false negatives, where actual compounds are lost because of such things as hair coloring or perming. In recent years, these techniques of hair analysis have revealed the interesting findings of arsenic in the hair of Napoleon Bonaparte, and laudanum in the hair of the poet Keats. “

“The procedure includes a thorough washing of the hair to remove external contaminants followed by a process of physical degradation using a variety of methods (such as digestion with enzymes or dissolution with acids, organic solvents, etc.,). Following these preparatory procedures, the hair is then analyzed. Antibody testing (e.g. radio immunoassay) is a well-established procedure although there is small potential of obtaining false positive results. These are mainly caused by the cross-reactivity of the antibody with other compounds, including minor analgesics, cold remedies and antipsychotic drugs - compounds not likely to be found in Egyptian mummies. Because of the possible false positives, chromatography (GC-MS) is routinely utilized to confirm the results. “

“The suggestion of nicotine contamination from cigarette smoke is eliminated by the use of solvents and/or acids in the cleaning process - methods used by Balabanova et. al. and all other researchers that have documented drugs in mummies. “

“The validity of Balabanova's findings seems to be vindicated at least so far as the analytical methods used in the study. The authors' methods as well as those in the additional findings reported here (see below) have used the combination of immunological and chromatographic methods to both analyze and confirm samples. “

Faked Mummies

“The argument that the mummies might have been modern fakes was investigated by David (Discovery, 1997). David is the Keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum, and undertook her own analysis of mummies, independent of Balabanova's group. In addition, she traveled to Munich to evaluate for herself the mummies studied by Balabanova's group. Unfortunately the mummies weren't available for filming and they were being kept isolated from further research on grounds of religious respect. David had to resort to the museum's records. She found that, except for the city's famous mummy of Henot Tawi (Lady of the Two Lands) the mummies were of unknown origin and some were represented only by detached heads. “

“David's inability to examine the mummies herself may have kept the possibility of faked ones open; however, her evaluation of the museum's records seemed to indicate otherwise. The mummies were preserved with packages of their viscera inside. Some even contained images of the gods. In addition the state of mummification itself was very good. The isolated heads may have been fakes (evidence one way or the other is lacking) but the intact bodies examined in Balabanova's research were clearly genuine. “



Chemical Changes



“The argument that the identified drugs might be byproducts of decomposition is highly unlikely. The argument appears to resemble a 'Just So' story of biochemical evolution without the benefit of natural selection. Schafer (1993) admits that natural decomposition or mummification has never led to the synthesis of cocaine or related alkaloids but leaves the possibility open anyway. He argues that the compounds in question might theoretically have been produced by atropine-alkaloid-containing plants (such as were present in species that were utilized in the mummification process). “

“The benefit of the doubt in this case clearly goes to Balabanova et. al. Until it is shown how cocaine could be produced in this way, the argument is hypothetical at best. “



Isolated Example



“The detection of drugs in human hair is a fairly recent endeavor (McPhillips, 1998; Sachs, 1998). A few compounds were identified during the 1980's but it wasn't until the 1990s that drug screening via hair analysis became accepted and used as a possible alternative to urine sampling. The criticism that no known cases of cocaine, nicotine, or hashish have been reported in human hair must, therefore be interpreted with clarification. None of these compounds had been observed in human hair because the process had not been fully developed, nor had the application even been considered until quite recently. Even then the claim is not true. “

“Cartwell et. al. (1991) using a radio immunoassay method detected cocaine metabolites in pre-Columbian mummy hair from South America. In this study two out of eight mummies analyzed showed cocaine metabolites. All samples tested were confirmed by a separate laboratory (Psychomedics Corporation, Santa Monica, California) using GC-MS. The two mummies testing positive were from the Camarones Valley in northern Chile. The artifacts as well as the mummies at this site were typical of Inca culture. “

“Since the initial work of Balabanova et. al., other studies have revealed the same drugs (cocaine, nicotine, and hashish) in Egyptian mummies, confirming the original results. Nerlich et. al. (1995), in a study evaluating the tissue pathology of an Egyptian mummy dating from approximately 950 B.C., found the compounds in several of the mummy's organs. They found the highest amounts of nicotine and cocaine in the mummy's stomach, and the hashish traces primarily in the lungs. These findings were again identified using both radio immunoassay and GSMS techniques. Very similar results were again found in yet another study by Parsche and Nerlich (1995). Again, the findings were obtained using the immunological and chromatographic techniques. “

“David's work (Discovery, 1997) though not finding cocaine, did confirm the presence of nicotine. This finding has seemed a little less threatening to conservative scholarship in that it seems possible (albeit unlikely) that a nicotine-producing plant may have existed in Africa within historic times - only becoming extinct recently. “

“Such a possibility might allow for a comfortable resolution to conservative scholarship but doesn't explain the evidence of cocaine. Additionally, the possibility of a native plant going extinct is unlikely. Much more reasonable would be that an introduced species under cultivation could go extinct, yet this only begs the question of the original provenance of the species. “

“In any event, considering the several confirmations of Balabanova's work (as well as that of Caldwell et. al. prior to her study) it appears that the argument against their findings based on too little evidence is quickly vanishing (if not already obviated). “

Last edited by Todd Feinman; December 22nd, 2017 at 03:54 PM.
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Old December 22nd, 2017, 03:54 PM   #25

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Originally Posted by Dan Howard View Post
Anyone who can't be bothered to learn the simplest principals of chemistry have no business in these kinds of discussions. The semi-literate, barely educated conspiracy theorists have retarded scientific progress for decades.
Some people want this to be true so they run with it without subjecting the New World trade link hypothesis to any scrutiny.

The cocaine mummies are a rather obvious case of contamination.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 12:23 AM   #26

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Originally Posted by Todd Feinman View Post
Here is the defense of the methodology from a link earlier posted. Again I don't believe in contact, but I don't know what to believe. Probably some extinct plants?

<snipped pointless info>
They didn't find a coca plant; they found cocaine hydrochloride. The chemical never existed before the 19th century. And no, the ancients couldn't have made it because the process requires other modern chemicals such as potassium permanganate, which never existed before the 17th century.

Last edited by Dan Howard; December 23rd, 2017 at 12:42 AM.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 05:50 AM   #27

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Originally Posted by Dan Howard View Post
They didn't find a coca plant; they found cocaine hydrochloride. The chemical never existed before the 19th century. And no, the ancients couldn't have made it because the process requires other modern chemicals such as potassium permanganate, which never existed before the 17th century.
Well, that would actually settle it then! Thanks. Barring time-traveling Egyptians that liked to travel to the 70's and bring blow back with them!
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 07:44 AM   #28
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It is obvious it is contamination - probably when the 19th century tomb robbers (or archaeologists) passed out their cigars and smoked them over the body celebrating their find.

As for trans-Atlantic travel - there is a problem.

1. Most of the cultures within the New World were barely out of the Late Stone Age, meanwhile Egypt has been smelting copper and bronze for centuries - yet somehow there are no bronze swords, helmets, spears, or armor within the New World.
2. Why would the Egyptians go to the new world in the first place? There is nothing they needed there that they did not have in Egypt. If it is coca or some other drug - there is a far better place to get drugs than half way around the world. The Nile does produce lotuses and cannabis - the former might have hallucination properties and the latter is mind-altering.
3. Now some idiot will point the fact that the New World has mummies and pyramids. So does Britannia, China, Australia, and other regions of the world. These things are universal - it does not mean that the Egyptians exported them - all it means is that someone else thought of doing the same thing.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 01:44 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Caracalla View Post
In 1992 a German toxicologist released a report that shook the world of Egyptology. She claimed that she had found, on 3,000 year old mummies, traces of nicotine and cocaine; both plants indigenous to the New World. How was this possible? What was the cause?

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8zJUF0_7-s&feature=related"]Scandals of the Ancient World (part4/5) - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EoAiuCcAHw&feature=related"]Scandals of the Ancient World (part5/5) - YouTube[/ame]

Discussion on this topic begins at 6:00 in the first video.
Polls rarely offer enough options so miss out on the correct answers . Which happened in this poll too.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 01:45 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Chookie View Post
My vote goes to the option you left out. - Related Old World alkaloids.

In case anyone didn't know, nicotine plants grew in Africa too...
yes, thats a known missing option.
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