Role of Drugs in Ancient Civilizations

Today’s modern society, most individuals like those who are seeking for employment including current employees of certain companies are subjected to drug testing such as urine drug tests and mouth swab drug and alcohol tests. This is so because of the increasing number of substance abuse and individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the workplace.

A research by Elisa Guerra-Doce of the Universidad de Valladolid that was published in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (Springer) suggests that the people during ancient times did not use psychoactive or psychedelic substances merely for their self-indulgent delight as compared to most individuals in today’s time.

Numerous prehistoric civilizations controlled the use of wine, alcohol, and drugs and worked together with their beliefs, practices and burial rites that were to them considered to be very sacred. Therefore, no need for drug tests! Majority of the drugs they used were in plant form, some of which are present today like mushrooms that have hallucinogenic properties and opium poppies.

Archeological Studies on the Use of Drugs Before our Time

Archaeological studies and records show that for thousands of years, numerous civilizations of different cultures like the Maya, Aztec, and the Olmec used entheogenic drugs for rituals and divine or spiritual undertakings. Entheogens are acquired from natural sources. Its chemical compound once induced changes the conditions of the mind of an individual. One example of traditional entheogens used is the peyote, a psychoactive or psychedelic alkaloid obtained from a small cactus.

The Olmec existed in Central America from 12,000 BCE to 400 BCE and many believed that the Aztec and Maya inherited their culture from them. They didn’t leave any printed works regarding their system of belief but left behind murals and relics that archaeologists were able to study. From this, they assumed that the Olmecs used entheogens for burial rituals wherein priests or shamans were buried with Bufo Toads. These toads have chemicals in them that cause euphoria and hallucinations. Murals and sculptures of witch-doctors and other figures have obvious therianthropic or shape-shifting portrayals which archaeologist believed to be the product of entheogen use.

From 250 BCE to 900 CE, the Maya have thrived in Central America. Their belief system and practices are more complicated and advanced as compared to the Olmec. The Maya left behind religious or spiritual records that intensely exhibited importance on a person who acted as a medium or a communicator between the physical and the spiritual domain. In connection, stone images of mushrooms were indications that these plants were nonetheless respected and celebrated in a sacred way because these mushrooms were used in their rituals and practices.

 

Tribal Drugs (Hallucinations)