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No. 116: Mar-Apr 1998

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Mystery Of The Stoned Pharaoh

So reads the caption under the photo of an Egyptian sarcophagus in the French magazine Telerama.

The short article accompanying the photograph relates how a respected toxicologist, a Dr. Balanova, has presented "irrefutable" proof that the mummy of the pharaoh Henut Taui contains traces of both cocaine and tobacco. This pronouncement elicited the comment: "Madame Balanova hallucinates!" The reason for such a reaction is not hard to find. The mainstream position has been that cocaine and tobacco are New World substances that were unknown in the Old World until after 1492. A stoned pharaoh implies trans-Atlantic commerce 2,000 years before Columbus.

(Merigaud, Bernard; "La Cocaine des Pharaons," Telerama, p. 122, September 3, 1997. Cr. C. Mauge.)

Comment. Fragments of tobacco leaves have been discovered in the stomach of the pharaoh Ramses II. (SF#7)

From Science Frontiers #116, MAR-APR 1998. 1998-2000 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