Researchers Discover Child Ingested Psychoactive Cactus Prior To Ancient Ceremonial Death


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Analysis of a hair sample taken from an ancient trophy head in Peru revealed the child victim consumed a psychoactive cactus prior to death.

The child is believed to be part of a Nazca society ritual sacrifice that took place in Peru some time between 3500 BC and AD 476, wherein its head was severed from its body and made into a type of trophy, according to a study that will soon be published in the Journal of Archeological Science. The remains were first discovered, along with 22 other humans, in 1982, and have been analyzed as part of a long-running study that recently uncovered the use of San Pedro cactus in the child.

San Pedro cacti are native to the Andes and contain mescaline, one of the oldest and longest-studied psychedelics, according to The Third Wave. It’s said to have similar effects to ecstasy or MDMA, providing users with potentially life-changing visions, introspection, and healing. Indigenous civilizations regularly used it in their traditions and ceremonies. (RELATED: Archaeologists Discover Tomb Of Ancient Mercenary, What They Found Is Bizarre)

“The trophy head is the first case of the consumption of San Pedro by an individual living on the southern Peruvian coast,” study author Dagmara Socha told Live Science. “It’s also the first evidence that some of the victims who were made into trophy heads were given stimulants before they died.” Socha and her colleagues took hair samples from a range of mummies and trophy heads, many of which revealed use of psychoactive or stimulant plants prior to their death.