Coca leaves have been consumed on the southern Peruvian coast since the Early Nazca Period (100 BCE-450 CE). by [deleted] in history

[–]someterriblethrills 151 points152 points  (0 children)

Cocaine is indeed the 'active' ingredient in coca leaves.

It's super interesting actually. There's a type of chemical compound called alkaloids. Alkaloids don't have much in common, except for that they all occur naturally in plants/animals/fungi. Most plants have loads of different alkaloids (coca leaves have 13 I think, but that's just off the top of my head.)

Usually, it's a single alkaloid that affects humans.

For example: The burning sensation that comes from spicey food is due to the alkaloid capsaicin, which is an irritant to humans (but not to birds, fun fact.) Same with piperine, the alkaloid in black pepper.
On the other end of the scale, atropine (which is found in the deadly nightshade plant) affects the functioning of the central nervous system which is why the plant is toxic to humans.

Most alkaloids end in "ine." You'll start noticing them everywhere: nicotine is the alkaloid that affects humans in the tobacco plant, morphine and codeine in the opium poppy, caffeine from coffee beans, cocaine from coca leaves....

So modern cocaine is basically just that one chemical compound extracted and processed. But you're right that cocaine is absolutely present in coca leaves. Chewing coca leaves/drinking coca tea is basically like having a cup of coffee, and snorting cocaine is like snorting pure caffeine.

An archaeologist's rebuttal against Graham Hancock and Netflix's Ancient Apocalypse by MeatballDom in history

[–]drunkinmidget 1766 points1767 points 55248222& 19 more (0 children)

PhD in History here.

It's sadly not quite that simple. There are often paradigms that are difficult to shift. Disproving one theory/interpretation or showing how something was different than we previously understood can be fantastic for one Historians career, but st the same time it is detrimental to (typically) numerous Historians whose work has revolved around what is being "discredited." Thus, people can get very defensive over a given interpretation of the past.

Even in fields covering more recent history, such as mine, where it is widely understood that our understanding of the past will change repeatedly as new information is retrieved (personal papers being accessiblr after people die, old folks not caring anymore and spilling the beans, government document declassification, etc.), you still get some very... aggressive defense of one's work from people.

So, if you are looking at a peer reviewed journal, for example, you won't see this conflict from just taking a look from the outside. But if your article is going against the tide of the field's accepted interpretation of an event, behind the scenes you may have trouble. Your article is going to be sent out to two of the field's leading Historians to review. When they read your article basically saying that their past work is wrong, they will review your article poorly and tell the editor not to print it. The editors go off the reviewers, then you don't get printed.

On the outside, you only see articles being printed with new stuff in it, but you would never know that all those articles are bringing in new stuff that doesn't go drastically against the grain of leading Historians who are reviewing those articles.

This is the same process with university published books. It's really hard to get a high quality publication in general if you are going radically against the accepted narrative for these reasons, and thus, you don't get paradigm shifts often. It can sometimes take scholars retiring and a new generation who is less attached and defensive to become the new batch of senior scholars doing reviews.

Tldr - He isn't making that outlandish of a claim. Particularly in a field that has little hard evidence to go by, it's very difficult to shift the accepted interpretation of the past.

New version of the Epic of Gilgamesh — the first to contain all known transcriptions of about 22,000 text fragments, circa 130 BC to date — will be made publicly accessible by marketrent in history

[–]marketrent[S] 785 points786 points  (0 children)


The Babylonians wrote in cuneiform characters on clay tablets, which have survived in the form of countless fragments.

Over centuries, scholars transferred the characters imprinted on the pieces of clay onto paper.

Then they would painstakingly compare their transcripts and – in the best case – recognize which fragments belong together and fill in the gaps.

The texts were written in the languages Sumerian and Akkadian, which have complicated writing systems.

This was a Sisyphean task, one that the experts in the Electronic Babylonian Literature project can scarcely imagine today.


Enrique Jiménez, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Literatures at LMU’s Institute of Assyriology, and his team have been working on the digitization of all surviving cuneiform tablets since 2018. In that time, the project has processed as many as 22,000 text fragments.

Aptly named the Fragmentarium, it is designed to piece together fragments of text using systematic, automated methods.

The designers expect that the program will also be able to identify and transcribe photos of cuneiform scripts in the future.

To date, thousands of additional cuneiform fragments have been photographed in collaboration with the British Museum in London and the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.


In February 2023, the LMU researcher will publish the Fragmentarium.

For the first time, he will also release a digital version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The new edition will be the first to contain all known transcriptions of cuneiform fragments to date.

Since the project started, around 200 scholars worldwide have had access to the online platform for their research projects. Now it is to be made available to the public as well.

“Everybody will be able to play around with the Fragmentarium. There are thousands of fragments that have not yet been identified,” says Jiménez.

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 30 Jan. 2023.

Bookclub and Sources Wednesday! by AutoModerator in history

[–]lappy482 6 points7 points  (0 children)

The David Rumsey Map Collection is superb for looking up specific maps from specific time periods - hopefully you should be able to find what you're looking for there!

Also - it's a bit more modern, but one map that absolutely fascinates me is the National Library of Scotland's digitalised Ordnance Survey map of London from the 1890s. It's incredibly detailed and shows you on a street-to-street level what London looked like 130 years ago. Plus, they also have a similarly detailed OS map of the city from the 1950s/60s, which lets you see how much the city changed over 60-70 years.

A pretty engaging article about drug use by soldiers throughout history. Drugs have been used in various forms by warriors and soldiers throughout history. Their influence is often overlooked but I found this pretty fascinating! by [deleted] in history

[–]Ozymandias01Tripping on History 1637 points1638 points  (0 children)

This is a fun post for me since I study the use of drugs before modern day, essentially drug use in society from neolithic all the way to the turn of the century. I'm like a ancient drug historian. If you like this article, you should definitely check out the author's book, "Shooting Up: A short history of Drugs and War". Łukasz Kamieński is one of the few people to go in to detail about human consumption of drugs as it relates to combat. While this article focuses more on the modern use of drugs in wartime, I can recommend some other instances off the top of my head that might be interesting:

  • Germanic Berserkers (literally high off of anything)
  • Scythians were nomadic steppe horse archers that were some the first peoples know to be consuming marijuana in large quantities to Herodotus. It might be argued that they were one of the first to select high THC level strains form the female flower of the pant for psychoactive intent. Here is a link to a mummy found in northwest China where they found a man buried with almost 2 pounds of flower next to him who would have been a nomadic horse archer type. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/marijuana-cannabis-pot-weed-burial-shroud-china-ancient-discovery-scythians-turpan-archaeology-botany/
  • Hashashin using well...hash (basically a ninja if you were to infuse fundamentalist islamic doctrine and a ton of psychological training aided with loads of hash. A lot has been written about this subject.
  • African tribes have been using a variety of drugs for a very long time.
  • Mushrooms are everywhere and are one of the biggest misunderstood/neglected drugs humans have consumed for one of the longest periods of time. Some people have proposed that mushrooms opened up new neuron pathways to our ape ancestors thus being the catalyst for human evolution. This is called the stoned ape theory, but technically its really a hypothesis. The "Drunken Monkey Hypothesis" proposed by Dudley at UC Berkeley, is essentially the same idea. I'm personally a big believer in the idea that beer came before bread and one could argue a solid case that alcohol consumption is principally linked to the formation of organized societal structures...not a lot of time but when I get back I can expand on it later.
  • Mesopotamian drunk armies were essentially the norm for millennia as well as Greece and other Mediterranean powers. One could also look at the role of the lotus flower and how its mild psychoactive effects are MUCH more pronounced under the role of alcohol. (Looking at YOU Egypt!)
  • Mesoamerican soldiers using everything under the sun from Coca to ayahuasca/peyote/mushrooms

-Opium cannot be overstated enough. If there is one thing I would like to have more time to study in my research it would be the role of the poppy flower. It is mentioned in the earliest of pharmaceutical text and would have been a miracle of a pain killer but it would be difficult to see it used for combat because it doesn't have the stimulating or mind altering effects you would want in a soldier. Might be very good however at calming soldiers before battle by ingesting or dissolving raw opium into alcohol. This would help keep the anxiety of the front lines down, while not impairing their frontal lobe cortex TOO much where they can't stab the guy they need to.

Would love to write more, but I got to run. I'll be back later to answer any questions any of you guys might have just comment below.

EDIT: I've been getting a lot of inbox request to expand on the the topic of beer and alcohol in forming society. So I will go a little more into detail about this. The basis of the idea is that homosapiens were nomadic for a vast period of time, until we started settling down in the past 9-10,000 years ago (will talk about Gobekli Tepe in a second). The main reason we stopped moving around so much was to grow barley for beer production. A couple of reasons for this:

  1. The Holocene-the climate epoch shifted to what we are more accustomed to now. People could now grow certain crops in areas they could not grow before and coincides with the first River Valley Civilizations.
  2. Since one could now grow barley quite efficiently, all one had to do was the smash the grains and put them in some warm water for a little bit and tada! you got a little buzz going on after you drink it.
  3. Beer would have been nutritional for calories, safer to drink than water in some cases, and since you have to be around to grow it and get some harvests in for the year, you can't be moving around all the time. You might as well put up a couple of buildings and also a temple and a ruler and wait..are we getting civilization?
  • Why not bread? The traditional approach is that humans produced bread first. This is being challenged more than ever before. While bread was certainly being produced at some early sites like Çatalhöyük, Jericho, etc. its obvious beer was also being produced. So what came first? First off, there are a number of sites where you find two-row barley husk grains and no presence of emmer, einkorn, or any other type of wheat. You also don't find the charcoal carbon residue from baking bread that you would expect from these sites. It is a lot harder to make bread from barley than wheat and even where we only find wheat like in the Natufian culture, still not a lot of evidence it was being baked into bread. Plus...the early grains in ancient times have been scientifically proven to be easier to work with via fermentation. Ganj Dareh in the Zagros of Iran (first place to domesticate goats) is important because you only find two row barley and no wheat even though wheat can be grown. Large grinding stones and large vats for storage of some kind. These sites are pretty old, but lets put on our fancy time travelling shoes and take a walk down the timeline to Gobekli Tepe on the border of South Eastern Turkey and Syria. 11,000 years old and standing strong with massive stone pillars forming an early neolithic hunter gathering area. At only 5% excavation we've already found 3d relief carvings and wait for it....6 stone vessels testing positive for Calcium Oxalate. Calcium Oxalate occurs when you smash, soak and ferment some grain. Oh YEAH!

Why not Wine?

- Wine certainly was there when we first started forming villlages and the first cities. Hajji Firuz has yielded some of the earliest wine in vessels coated in Pistachio Resin. While grains were easier and faster and obviously much earlier, wine was right behind it and played a major role in sedentary lifestyles as the role of viticulture became a bigger in society. While I'm talking about it, I want to point out to people that you will hear a lot of things from textbooks to that "guy" who works behind the wine bar of where wine comes from. There are technically three answers to this question and it all depends on what you consider wine.

1) If wine is something fermented that isn't grain then its China 9000 years ago where wild honey and rice was fermented.

2) If wine must be fermented from the wine making grape, vitis vinifera, then its North West Zagros Mountains 7000 years ago.

3) If wine is vitis vinifera AND fermented using the modern yeast,* saccharomyces cerevisia*e, then it is Ancient Egypt 5000 years ago during the reign of the Scorpion King.

Wooh, might have to grab a beer and return to this later, people have suggested I do an AMA, but maybe in the future we'll see how much traction this post gets.

Discovery of 1,000 previously unknown Maya settlements challenges the old notion of sparse early human occupation in northern Guatemala (ca. 1000 B.C.–A.D. 150) by marketrent in history

[–]Lord0fHats 266 points267 points  (0 children)

To clear a few things up: (copied from another thread)

This isn't in Yucatan. Hansen's work primarily deals in the Peten and the most famous city in his area of interest today is the Maya city of El Mirador.

This also isn't really 'new.' Hansen has been arguing the need for increased archeology in this region for nearly 20 years. The crux of his interest is that the cities of the Mirador Basin are older than the Classical Maya, but display remarkable sophistication. He's never come right out and just said it exactly, but he's been angling for a long time that greater study of the largely unexplored and surveyed sites could lead to a general rewriting of early Maya history, when their culture first emerged and how sophisticated it was before the Classical Maya.

Mayanists have an ongoing, low key, debate about where Maya civilization began; in the Highlands, or as Hansen wants to argue, in the Peten. (EDIT: I got my geography wrong)

He's not wrong that there's interesting sites there that could force a reconsideration of things. He's not wrong that it's underexplored either.

This article is wrong in acting like this is new. Lidar has been getting used in this region for a decade. 1491 even has a chapter mostly dedicated to the myth of 'sparse human settlement' that uses the earliest studies to discuss how littered in human alterations the American landscape was when Europeans arrived.

There's a 12 kilometer highway for example that connects El Mirador to another Maya settlement in the region; Nakbe, where most of El Mirador's stone was quarried.

This is more a case of Hansen trying to drum up interest and support than a truly new discovery, but then again I'll bet lots of people reading were unaware of all this before so *shrug* Dude's doing what he's gotta do.

EDIT: I also now feel obligated to link to this information another redditor shared with me, which I didn't know and I find so disappointing.

The Japanese cigarette brand weaponised against Chinese smokers in wartime by zhumao in history

[–]unassumingdink 507 points508 points  (0 children)

Imagine if cigarette smokers got addicted to something. It would be chaos!

Conflict in Central Europe leading to Bronze Age Collapse by Gideonn1021 in history

[–]Bentresh 280 points281 points  (0 children)


Much of the (over)emphasis on the impact of various migratory groups (today clumped together under the somewhat inaccurate label "Sea Peoples") is due to an unfortunate tendency to take Egyptian historical inscriptions at face value. Egyptian inscriptions were written to express the Egyptian worldview, not to record "what actually happened," and one should always exercise caution when using them as historical sources. For example, an inscription on the second pylon at Medinet Habu lists the city of Carchemish in Syria as destroyed by invaders, along with other Syrian cities such as Arwad. We know from textual and archaeological evidence from Carchemish, however, that Carchemish not only survived the end of the Bronze Age more or less intact but thrived after the collapse of the Hittite Empire, with an unbroken royal line descended from the Hittite Great Kings of the Late Bronze Age (as Millek notes above). Similarly, the Canaanite (or, as they would be called by the Greeks, Phoenician) city-states of the northern Levantine coast like Byblos and Sidon seem to have survived the end of the Late Bronze Age mostly unscathed.

The Egyptians were no doubt perfectly well aware of this, but they were not concerned with creating a faithful list of conquests and ensuring an accurate list of destroyed cities for future historians. The impact of the list was what mattered. A king who had (allegedly) defeated a confederation of enemies so powerful that they had destroyed the majority of the ancient Near East was a very mighty king indeed.

To cite another example of the often questionable veracity of Egyptian historical accounts, the Libyan battle reliefs from Taharqa's temple at Kawa in Sudan are direct copies of Old Kingdom battles scenes like those from the mortuary temple of Sahure at Abusir, created nearly 1800 years earlier. Even the names of the three defeated Libyans were recycled. This doesn't mean that Taharqa was trying to bamboozle people into thinking he had defeated Libyan forces when he hadn't; rather, the reliefs are simply a timeless expression of the king's role as protector of Egypt and his obligation to bring forth order from chaos.

As for the Sea Peoples, they were essentially dispossessed victims of the disturbances at the end of the Late Bronze Age (including but not limited to a devastating pandemic and prolonged drought) who migrated to other regions in search of greener pastures, both literally and figuratively. Some engaged in piracy (particularly in the vicinity of Cyprus and southern Anatolia), while others established new settlement sites in southern Anatolia and along the Levantine coast, becoming indistinguishable from the local populations fairly quickly (within the span of 1-2 generations).

Several of these groups originated in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Greece, the Aegean islands, and western Anatolia, while others seem to have originated in south-central Europe (including but not limited to Sicily).

Some of the groups are attested more than 200 years before the end of the Bronze Age, often allied with the major powers like the Egyptians and Hittites. In the Battle of Kadesh (ca. 1280 BCE) fought between the Egyptians and Hittites, for instance, the Sherden fought on behalf of the Egyptians, and the Lukka fought on behalf of the Hittites. They were also often hired as mercenaries by the smaller city-states in the Levant. For example, in two letters to the king of Egypt (EA 122 and 123) dating to around 1340 BCE, the vassal king of Byblos complained that the Egyptian governor of nearby Kumidi killed a Sherden within his town.

I've written a bit more about this in a few past posts.

An archaeologist's rebuttal against Graham Hancock and Netflix's Ancient Apocalypse by MeatballDom in history

[–]teddylumpskins 1845 points1846 points  (0 children)

His rants against “mainstream” (whatever that means) academia always irritate me.

I’m not an academic, but I did get an MA in history so I have some understanding of how academia works. Hancock’s “dogmatic” academics are like his boogeymen or something. When he says things like “they don’t want to accept this because it destroys their narrative.” I always chuckle because any historian or academic would KILL for a credible discovery that would literally rewrite the records.

You know who else would love for more ancient discoveries and shit to be made? The textbook industry. Those guys look for literally ANY REASON to print new editions. Credible discoveries would mean a printing press of money for the academic and textbook industry.

He also never actually engages with academics and chalks their stances as nonchalance or close minded. Baffling.