A new study has found that the leaders of Wari may have laced their beer with hallucinogens to keep their political control for centuries. The drugs are said to have been extracted from plant seeds. The Wari are a South American civilization that ruled the highlands of what is now known as Peru, before the Incas. The culture occupied the highlands between 600 AD and 1000 AD.
Archaeological excavations that were conducted between 2013 and 2017 at the Quilcapampa site in the south of Peru have discovered that the tribe used seeds derived from the vilca tree then combined the seeds with beer made from the molle tree, known as chicha. This beer was then served to guests during communal feasts, which helped the tribe demonstrate and maintain political, economic and social control while strengthening relationships.
The study’s findings were reported in “Antiquity.”
The research shows evidence of vilca seeds at the tribe’s site, which helps fill gaps in understanding how different civilizations used hallucinogenic substances. Despite learning more about the Wari people, the researchers are yet to discover the reason behind the civilization’s collapse.
Matthew Biwer, the author of the study, explained that the Wari Empire extended from the coast to the Andes area, and the north region of Peru to the south near the Chilean border. Biwer noted that the Wari Empire was the first example of a South American empire because it collapsed almost four centuries before the rise of the Incas.
The researchers also found that the use of vilca, which was typically inhaled like snuff or through a pipe, dated back almost four millennia, noting that the drug was also used by the neighboring Tiwanaku tribe. Vilca now grows in the Ayacucho region, which is the region where the empire’s capital once stood. The seeds also grow in various parts of the Cusco region, which is about 400 km from Quilcapampa.
Previous findings have shown that vilca wasn’t available to every individual and was instead exclusively provided to privileged individuals such as priests. However, findings from the Wari site show that the people laced their alcohol with the drug and also gave it to others, which effectively enhanced the psychoactive effects of the substances. This behavior by the tribe not only provided many with an experience that wasn’t widely available but also displayed the tribe’s hospitality.
Prior research has also shown that the Wari were capable of accessing various resources, including Amazonian feathers, obsidian and seashells.
The discovery that psychedelics were used centuries ago is a potential indicator that the safety profile of these substances is fairly well understood and that companies such as Mydecine Innovations Group Inc. (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF), which come up with therapeutic formulations based on these classic psychedelics, shouldn’t have to jump a lot of hurdles based on fears that the medicines aren’t backed by a history of safe use.
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