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No. 111: May-Jun 1997

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Tobacco And Cocaine In Ancient Egypt

The current newsletter of the New England Antiquities Research Association has flagged an important anomaly that appeared on a 1997 TV program.

"In January [1997] the Discovery Channel broadcast a program stating that cocaine and tobacco had been found in Egyptian mummies known to be at least 3,000 years old. Tests used modern forensic methods and were repeated many times under carefully controlled conditions. Since coca and tobacco are not known to have grown anywhere other than the Americas, the evidence points to trade routes across the Pacific or Atlantic in those remote times. The program seemed to favor a Pacific crossing and then delivery via the Silk Route. Watch for a rebroadcast."

This news item continued with a reference to Dr. Balabanov's supporting tests on bodies from China, Germany and Austria, spanning the years 3,700 BC to 1100 AD. These bodies contained incredibly high percentages of nicotine.

(Ross, Priscilla; NEARA Transit, 9:5, Spring 1997.)

Comment. In SF#7/48, back in 1978, we reported that the mummy of Rameses II contained anomalous traces of nicotine.

From Science Frontiers #111, MAY-JUN 1997. 1997-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987