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The Origins of Inebriation...

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Jun 30 11 6:01 AM

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Apparently there has been some new research into prehistoric Eurasian usage of mind altering substances: "The earliest testimonies of the use of alcohol and drugs suggest that inebriation is a long-established habit, the origins of which can be traced back to prehistory. Traces highly suggestive of fermented beverages and remains of psychoactive plants have been recovered from archaeological sites throughout prehistoric Europe. This paper surveys the history of these substances from a cultural approach based on the contexts of consumption. A wide range of documents will be examined here (macrofossil remains of psychoactive plants, residues of fermented beverages, alkaloids in archaeological items and artistic depictions, among others). Considering that these sensory-altering products are mainly found in tombs and ceremonial places, they seem to be strongly connected to ritual usages. Far from being consumed for hedonistic purposes, it can therefore be argued that drug plants and alcoholic drinks had a sacred role among prehistoric societies."

Above is the abstract from  
The Origins of Inebriation: Archaeological Evidence of the Consumption of Fermented Beverages and Drugs in Prehistoric Eurasiaby Elissa Guerra Doce:

If you have the money to spend on it or just want to take a look inside the first couple pages, check out the link above. The abstract doesn't sound exactly ground-breaking until one realizes the limited extent to which this specific area of research has been explored. Also, specifics not found in the abstract are VERY interesting.  Below is an except from an article that mentions some of these specifics:

 "In the research, four different types of archaeological documents were examined: the macrofossil remains of the leaves, fruits or seeds of psychoactive plants; residues suggestive of alcoholic beverages; psychoactive alkaloids found in archaeological artifacts and skeletal remains from prehistoric times; and artistic depictions of mood-altering plant species and drinking scenes. These remnants include bits of the opium poppy in the teeth of a male adult in a Neolithic site in Spain, charred Cannabis seeds in bowls found in Romania, traces of barley beer on several ceramic vessels recovered in Iberia, and abstract designs in the Italian Alps that depict the ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms." Any thoughts on the article/paper?
Or on the subject of prehistoric usage of mind altering substances (in Eurasia or elsewhere)? 

This subject generally elicits some fascinating theories and I'd be interested to hear what you all think!

Last Edited By: NeonGolden Jun 30 11 6:10 AM. Edited 2 times

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Jun 30 11 9:17 PM

This is all interesting and I have seen these articles around. Really is interesting to ask.

Imo the more interesting question is why are changes in quality of life and spiritual experiences sought out for and what is the genetic or biochemical components?

There is of course evidence of the mammalian kingdom that seeks mind-altering substances, jaguars, capuchin monkeys, dolphins, etc.. but is there evidence that other species or organisms non-mammilian that consume or seek substances that alter their behavior that could be perhaps be attributed towards this non-mammilian seeking spiritual (per-spiritual) experience at the genetic, or biochemical level?

Experiencing euphoria is something I've only come across at higher-cognitive functioning animals, but it seems when they do research on lizards or lesser cognitive species, they ignore the component of euphoria and the such because they almost have no-self awareness as described from watching them interact with reflective surfaces, and in doing so assume insignificant.

So maybe its only mammals that can experience altered states of consciousness and thats why we search at the pre-human eras instead of lesser-cognitively capable animals when trying to find why or when altered states of consciousness seeking existed?

Its clear to me that at least the history of metabolic evolution serves to coexist with the species that consume and the species that produce, and an equilibrium will surface if the environment is agreeable. This clearly happened with cannabis, as it was a huge part of global trade in the history of humans and has peculiar genetic qualities in the discrete areas of the earth where it thrived before global trade. And the whole idea that plants make chemicals as defense mechanisms is true partly, but they are all just chemicals, and if a plant had the genetics to express a chemical lets say similar to anadamide(to prevent lets say UV), and it reinforced an organismal-need X(reward, attentional-pain inhibition), then anandamide and X would coevolve till a new equilibirum was reached as long as the equilibirum favored the couple.

Might have went off tangent but yea this stuff is interesting!

I always think of the world having 10% shamans all over, and eating, plugging, snorting, farting-on, peeing-on, pooping-on, crying-on, laughing-on, plants at random in the beginning of discovery. The brain of the shaman was that their brain-organ was geared differently to seek altered-substances. By eating a lot of plants and trying to construct a vocabulary of how to differentiate, many shamans died, many shamans got sick, and only a few were able to pass down the knowledge coherent-enough to replicate amongst the culture. These substances couldnt have been too potent, because the shaman would be dead. They had to fall in an equilibrium which the shamans brain could entertain. If they were inactive, the shamans imagination could delude his senses into believing that the substances within the plant were "working" and since most people went to the shaman to get medicine, they believed the shaman, and so the perpetual loss of shamans, with a slim chance of surviving and producing semi-deluded knowledge emerged until we are here now; Where the language of biochemistry and the tool of science can objectively test the knowledge passed down by the early beginnings of perceptual self-discovery. Cheers

Edited: By thinking retroactively I remembered that dreaming and sleeping is an altered state of consciousness, and could be attributed to lesser-cognitive animals, reptiles and insects, and even cells themselves seem to have dipolar rhythms.

Last Edited By: vnc Jun 30 11 9:26 PM. Edited 1 time.

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