Ancient Maya May Have Smoked Marigold to Make Tobacco More Enjoyable, Study Finds

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) have detected the presence of marigold (Tagetes lucida) in containers of some tobacco plant ingredients, which thought to have some ig healing properties, in containers of ancient Maya medicine more than a thousand years old. Scientists for the first time identified tobacco-free plants in ancient Maya medicine containers, and researchers believe it used to make tobacco smoking “more enjoyable.” 

Lead study author Mario Zimmerman said in a press release, “If you find something really interesting like the intact container, it gives you joy.” It rarely exists and offers a lot of interesting research possibilities.”

Previously, the detection of plant substances in the Maya industry was limited to having only two biomarkers to provide caffeine and nicotine. However, new metabolic-based analyzes developed by WSU can now detect thousands of metabolites (plant compounds) from various archaeological specimens, such as pot and container residues, and open up opportunities for plants to detect new substances. “Although it has been established that tobacco was commonly used throughout America before and after the introduction, evidence of medicinal plants or other plants used for religious purposes has been extensively explored,” Zimmerman said.

Since the two types of tobacco that identified in the containers commonly smoked in the area, the extra presence of Mexican marijuana led researchers to think that Maya had intentionally mixed these substances. Marigold has a pungent odor and it was thought to have some of the final shad qualities of ancient Maya, so studies have speculated that Maya mixed these ingredients for a more enjoyable and fruitful smoking experience.

This new method of substance identification will hopeful pave the way for the use of Colombian pre-psychological and non-psycho-active plants for future investigations. “Analysis methods developed in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology and the Institute of Biological Chemistry give us the ability to investigate drug use in the ancient world that has never happened before,” Zimmerman said. The co-author adds, “We are expanding the boundaries of archeology so that we can better investigate the deep human relationships that people had with a wide range of psychological plants, which were (and will continue to be) swallowed by people all over the world.” ), “Added co-author Shannon Tushingham. “There are many innovative ways in which people manage, use, manipulate and prepare plants and plant mixtures, and archaeologists have begun to refute the surface of how ancient these methods were.”