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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