"Cocaine Mummies" serve as evidence that ancient Egyptians may have arrived in America long before Columbus

Anita Durairaj

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Mummy of Ramses the GreatPhoto byAlyssa Bivins; CC-BY-SA-4.0

In 1992, scientists found drugs such as cocaine, hashish, and nicotine in some Egyptian mummies. These mummies came to be known as the "cocaine mummies."

Traces of the drugs were found in the hair and skin of the mummies. Initially, scientists thought that this was a result of contamination and that perhaps improper techniques had been used to analyze the mummy.

It was also possible that chemical decomposition could have produced the drug contaminants. All of this was tested and ruled out in some cases.

During the time period of the ancient Egyptians, the only source of the cocaine and nicotine would have existed in the Americas. Coca and tobacco plants were native to the Americas and were not found in Africa at the time.

How did the Egyptian mummies obtain the cocaine and nicotine residues in Africa? Columbus only voyaged to the Americas much later in time.

To explain this, there is a school of thought among a few scientists that there was contact between the pre-Columbian people of the Americas and the ancient Egyptians. This would imply that the Egyptians had traveled to America long before Columbus crossed the Atlantic.

The hypothesis was that there was some sort of trans-Atlantic trade route and that the Egyptians might have used their reed boats to get to the Americas.

A commonality between the ancient Egyptians and the pre-Columbians were their pyramids. Both cultures built pyramids so could it not have been possible that they met?

Still, most historians are not convinced because they see no evidence of trade between the two ancient cultures. If there had been trading, there would have been evidence of food crops and farm animals shared between the two societies.

For now, the mystery of the "cocaine mummies" remains unsolved.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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