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When Did Humans Start Experimenting with Alcohol and Drugs?

Common sense would tell you that humans discovered drugs in nature pretty early, since we are omnivores and there's always someone in the group who will try anything. But that doesn't mean they survived the attempt, nor does it mean that the wider culture adopted the use of psychoactive chemicals found in nature. So how far back does alcohol and drug use really go?

Archaeologists have found evidence of opium use in Europe by 5,700 BC. Cannabis seeds appear in archaeological digs at 8,100 BC in Asia, and the ancient Greek historian Herodotus reported Scythians getting high on weed in 450 BC. Tea was brewed in China by 100 BC.

It’s possible our ancestors experimented with substances before the archaeological evidence suggests. Stones and pottery preserve well, but plants and chemicals decay quickly. For all we know, Neanderthals could have been the first to smoke pot. But archaeology suggests the discovery and intensive use of psychoactive substances mostly happened late, after the Neolithic Revolution in 10,000 BC, when we invented farming and civilisation.

That makes sense, because agriculture made manufacturing alcohol and drugs easier to scale up. Or was that just the point where they left evidence behind? Read about the history of drugs and alcohol at The Conversation. -via Damn Interesting


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