"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Mystery of the Cocaine Mummies

The Mystery of the Cocaine Mummies

Evidence for Ancient Transatlantic Trade

http://shangri-la.0catch.com/img/61072_Comparison.jpg


Transcript: 

In the 21st dynasty of the Pharaohs, 3,000 years ago, the funeral of Henut Taui - the Lady of the Two lands - took place one night at a temple.

Compared to those of the great rulers of Egypt, her burial was a modest affair. But just like the Pharaohs she too was mummified and her body placed in the depths of a desert tomb in the belief it would give her immortality. In an unexpected way, it has. Her mummified body waited throughout recorded history - the Greeks and Romans, the Dark and Middle ages, the Renaissance and Napoleon, until in the early 19th century her tomb was plundered.

The King of Bavaria bought the ornate sarcophagus with the mummy inside. He gave it to a museum in Munich where for another century Henut Taui lay undisturbed.

Then a German scientist, Dr Svetla Balabanova, made a discovery which was to baffle Egyptologists, and call into question whole areas of science and archeology from chemistry to botany.

She discovered that the body of Henut Taui contained large quantities of cocaine and nicotine. The surprise was not just that the ancient Egyptians had taken drugs, but that these drugs come from tobacco and coca, plants completly unknown outside the Americas, unheard of until Sir Walter Raleigh introduced smoking from the New World, or until cocaine was imported in the Victorian era.

It was seemingly impossible for the ancient Egyptians to get hold of these substances. And so began the mystery of the cocaine mummies.

It was in Munich in 1992 that researchers began a huge project to investigate the contents of mummies. When as part of their studies they wanted to test for drugs, it was no surprise that they turned to toxicologist Dr Svelta Balabanova for help.

As the inventor of groundbreaking new methods for the detection of drugs in hair and sweat, she was highly respected in her field. Dr Balabanova took samples from the mummies, which she pulverised and dissolved to make a solution. As she'd done countless times before, she ran the samples through a system which uses antibodies to detect the presence of drugs and other substances. Then as a backup the samples were put through the GCMS machine which can accurately identify substances by determining their molecular weight. As the graph emerged with peaks showing that drugs were present, and as the printer spewed out the analysis of just which drugs, something seemed to have gone very wrong.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"The first positive results, of course, were a shock for me. I had not expected to find nicotine and cocaine but that's what happened. I was absolutely sure it must be a mistake."
NARRATOR:
Balabanova ran the tests again. She sent fresh samples to three other labs. But the results kept being confirmed. The drugs were there. So she went ahead and published a paper. The reaction was a sharp reminder that science is a conservative world.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"I got a pile of letters that were almost threatening, insulting letters saying it was nonsense, that I was fantasising, that it was impossible, because it was proven that before Columbus these plants were not found anywhere in the world outside of the Americas."

NARRATOR:
From toxicologists to anthropologists - everyone thought the same.

DR JOHN HENRY - Consultant Toxicologist, Guys Hospital, London:
"The first thing you think of is that this is just mad. It's wrong. There's contamination present. Maybe there's a fraud present of some kind. You don't think that cocaine can be present in an Egyptian mummy."

NARRATOR:
Yet Balabanova herself had been worried about contamination. First she checked all the lab equipment. But being a forensic toxicologist, that wasn't all she did. Balabanova had learned her trade from working for the police, and had been trained in the methods they use for investigating a suspicious death. She'd been taught how vital it is when an autopsy is carried out to know whether the victim has consumed or been given any drugs or poisons. And she had also been taught that a special forensic technique exists which can show that the deceased has consumed a drug and rule out contamination at the same time.

So, anxious to ensure that her tests on the mummies were beyond reproach, she used this very technique - it's called the hair shaft test. Drugs and other substances consumed by humans get into the hair protein, where they stay for months, or after death - forever. Hair samples can be washed in alcohol and the washing solution itself then tested. If the testing solution is clear, but the hair tests positive, then the drug must be inside the hair shaft, which means the person consumed it during their lifetime. It's considered proof against contamination before or after death.
DR JOHN HENRY - Consultant Toxicologist, Guys Hospital, London:
"The hair shaft test is accepted. If you know that you've taken your hair sample from this individual and the hair shaft is known to contain a drug, then it is proof positive that the person has taken that drug. So it is accepted in law. It's put people into prison."

NARRATOR:
The hair shaft test on a couple in Jersey [Channel Is.], showed their two sons had drugged them before killing them. And aside from the Newall case, the technique has been used in countless others over the last 25 years. Since it's also used for drugs tests on addicts, company employees and in sport, to suggest it could produce false results was for Balabanova unthinkable.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"There's no way there can be a mistake in this test. This method is widely accepted and has been used thousands of times. If the results are not genuine, then the explanation must lie elsewhere, and not in my tests, because I'm 100 percent certain about the results."

NARRATOR:
If the fault was not in the tests, what else could lie behind the impossibility of mummies containing drugs from coca and tobacco, from a continent not discovered until over 1,000 years after the end of the Egyptian civilisation? In search of an explanation, we went to one of the UK's foremost authorities on mummies, a person who had spent years rummaging around in the bodies of ancient Egyptians, Rosalie David.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"When I was informed that cocaine had been found in Egyptian mummies, I was absolutely astounded. It seemed quite impossible that this should be the case."

NARRATOR:
Sceptical of Balabanova's results, Rosalie David decided to get some sampless from her own mummies and have them tested especially for 'Equinox'.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"What we shall do is to provide tissue samples and a hair sample from a number of mummies in the Manchester Museum collection. I shall be very surprised to find they had cocaine in them."

NARRATOR:
It would be a while before the results came back from the lab. Rosalie David's motive was not only to independently check Balabanova's methods. She also wanted to run the same tests but on different mummies. For she had more than one idea about how Balabanova could have got a misleading result.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"There were two ideas that sprang immediately to mind. One was that possibly something in the tests could give a false result. The second was that possibly the mummies that had been tested were not truly ancient Egyptian, that they could be some of these false, relatively modern mummies, and traces of cocaine could be in those individuals."

NARRATOR:
What Rosalie David was referring to happened in Egypt in Victorian Times. It was a gruesome operation to supply the antique dealers of Luxor.

When 19th century travellers went to Egypt in search of mummies and other valuables, the dealers might not have the genuine article available. And so the crudely mummified body of a recently dead Egyptian might be procured instead. For a shrivelled corpse would greatly increase the value of a genuine but empty sarcophagus.
Sometimes collectors would buy only limbs or other mummified spare parts. These are doubly suspect for the trade in fake mummies, especially separate heads and limbs, has an even older origin.
Eating the flesh of mummies was a common 16th century practice in Europe. People believed that mummies contained a black tar called bitumen, and so thought powder made from the ground up bodies would cure various illnesses.
This is the very origin of the word mummy, from the Persian for bitumen, mummia, and although it made people sick a roaring trade in powdered mummia grew, supplied from body parts and tissue shipped in bulk from Egypt.
The temptation to resort to fakes was high.
ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"Very soon, the demand outstripped the supply and certainly in the 16th century a French physician undertook a study of this trade. And he found that in fact they were burying bodies of convicted criminals in the sand. They were producing mummies, and these then became a source for the medicinal ingredient."

NARRATOR:
Could it be that the mummies Balabanova tested were fakes? Carbon dating on mummies often produces incorrect results, so archaeologists often rely on the provenance - knowing what tomb and excavation the mummy comes from and on examination of the mummification techniques.

So the only way for Rosalie David to check out here theory about fakes was to travel to Munich to see for herself the seven mummies that were the cause of all the fuss.
 http://heritage-key.com/medialink/files/Tutankhamun%20the%20Mystery%20Revealed.jpg

The Munich mummies as they are known belong to the city's Egyptian Museum, which is housed in the old palace of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who started the collection.

Inside the museum, Rosalie David found the sarcophagus of Henut Taui - the Lady of the Two Lands. She discovered from the museum catalogue that the coffin was bought by King Ludwig from an English traveller called Dodwell in 1845. There was no record of an exact excavation, but Henut Taui was said to have come from a tomb reserved for the priests and priestesses of the god Amun in Thebes.

But while being shown the other coffins Rosalie David discovered that apart from Henut Taui, most of the Munich mummies are of unknown origin, and some of the tested mummies turned out to be only detached heads. According to the museum, research had revealed inscriptions, amulets and complex embalming methods, which the museum claimed proved the mummies were ancient.

DR ALFRED GRIMM - Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich:
"The investigation shows clearly that the Munich mummies are real Egyptian mummies, no fakes, no modern mummies. They come from ancient Egypt."

NARRATOR:
The obvious way to prove this was to show the mummies to Rosalie David, but all the museum would let her see were empty sarcophagi.

DR ALFRED GRIMM - Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich:
"On grounds of religious respect we don't show these mummies here in our galleries. That's one point. The other is we don't allow to film the mummies and to show them on TV."

NARRATOR:
It wasn't always so, for the mummies had already been shown on television. But this German film [showing mummified bodies without wrappings] announcing Balabanova's results has caused quite a fuss. And so now, even though giving access might defeat the accusation of harbouring bogus mummies, it seemed that the museum wanted nothing more to do with the research they politely pointed out was far from respectable.

DR ALFRED GRIMM - Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich:
"It's not absolutely proven and I think it's not absolutely scientifically correct."

NARRATOR:
Rosalie had to make do with research papers and books from the museum. Were the Munich mummies fakes? Despite her initial suspicions she decided that on balance, they probably were the real thing.

ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"From the documentation and the research which has been carried out on the Munich mummies it seems evident that they are probably genuine because they have packages of viscera inside, some with wax images of the gods on them and also the state of mummification itself is very good. I would say that the detached heads we can't comment on, but the complete bodies probably are genuine."

NARRATOR:
And if that wasn't enough, it turned out that the results from the Munich mummies were not the only evidence from the dead. The anthropologists who originally ordered the tests didn't continue the project. But Balabanova, alongside her normal research into the metabolism of drugs started requesting samples of other ancient human remains from universities. And it was then that she got more results from Egypt.

She tested tissue from 134 naturally preserved bodies from an excavated cemetery in the Sudan, once part of the Egyptian empire. Although from a later period, the bodies were still many centuries before Columbus discovered the Americas. About a third of them tested positive for nicotine and cocaine.
Balabanova was mystified by the presence of cocaine in Africa but thought she might have a way of explaining the nicotine. As well as Egypt and the Sudan, she tested bodies from China, Germany and Austria, spanning a period from 3700BC to 1100AD. A percentage of bodies from all these other regions also contained nicotine.

[Graph showing presence of nicotine: Percentage of bodies with positive result - Egypt:89% Sudan:90% China:62.5% Germany:34% Austria 100%]

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"I continued to work on it because I wanted to be sure of my results, and after 3,000 samples I, was absolutely certain that the tobacco plant was known in Europe and Africa long before Columbus."

NARRATOR:
Far from being solved, the mystery that began in Egypt was spreading. Balabanova was suggesting that an unknown type of tobacco had grown in Europe, Africa and Asia thousands of years ago. But every schoolchild knows that tobacco was discovered in the New World. She was asking for a substantial slice of botany and history to be completely rewritten. Would anyone back her up?

Dr Balabonova had told us that we might find the secret of the mysterious presence of nicotine and cocaine in Egyptian mummies in the ancient plants of Africa. Perhaps there had been drug plants which the Egyptians had used but had vanished along with their civilisation. This led to a much more basic question. Were the Egyptians, the great Pharaohs and pyramid builders really users and abusers of drugs?
The clues can be found hidden in the walls of the grand temple of Karnak. The entire building is covered in depictions of the lotus flower from the tops of the vast columns to the pictograms on the walls. Until recently, Egyptologists took this most commonplace Egyptian symbol to have only a religious meaning. But according to some the true significance of the lotus has been overlooked.
ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"The lotus was a very powerful narcotic which was used in ancient Egypt and presumably, was widespread in this use, because we see many scenes of individuals holding a cup and dropping a lotus flower into the cup which contained wine, and this would be a way of releasing the narcotic.

"The ancient Egyptians certainly used drugs. As well as lotus they had mandrake and cannabis, and there is a strong suggestion the also used opium.
"So although it very surprising to find cocaine in mummies, the other elements were certainly in use."
NARRATOR:
So the Pharaohs clearly indulged in drugs. Hashish - which Balabanova also found in the mummies - is an Egyptian tradition which has survived for thousands of years, although nowadays, in public, pipes tend to be filled with nothing more than tobacco.


By contrast, the narcotic blue lotus flower, once so essential at parties, is now on the verge of extinction. And if it could disappear, why not other drug plants? We decided to pursue Balabanova's unusual theory that an ancient species of tobacco might once have grown in the Old World.

Small amounts of nicotine are present in a wide variety of plants and foods, but the high concentrations sought by smokers can only be found in tobacco.

[Graph showing quantities of nicotine: Concentrations in bone samples - Modern Smoker in nanograms/gram :c40ng China:c55ng Germany:c65ng Sudan:c45ng Egyptian Mummies:Off screen!]

The idea of a lost species of tobacco came to Balabanova because the concentrations in the bodies from Asia and Europe were similar to modern day smokers.

But one thing had puzzled her. At 35 times the dose for smokers, the amounts of nicotine she had found in Egyptian mummies were potentially lethal.

But first, Balabanova was baffled, but then she had a thought. The high doses of nicotine in Egyptian bodies could be explained if the tobacco - as well as being consumed - had also been used in mummification.

Over their 3000 year history the Egyptian priests kept the recipe of spices and herbs used to preserve the thousands of people and millions of animals they mummified a closely guarded secret.

The high levels of nicotine in tobacco can kill bacteria. Could it have been one of their secrets?

Balabanova looked through old literature about the bodies of the great Pharaohs and queens themselves. No longer under the care of the priests the fragile royal mummies are now kept in strict atmospheric conditions in the Cairo museum.

But Balabanova discovered a story from the days when scientists could still tamper with them - a story that had almost been forgotten.

http://thetruthbehindthescenes.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/2.gif

Ramses II died in 1213BC, a few hundred years before Henut Taui. When he was mummified, every possible skill and every rare ingredient was used by the embalmers to try to preserve his body for eternity. For where Henut Tuai was only a priestess, Ramses was arguably the mightiest of all the Pharaohs.

His imposing image adorns most of Egypt’s famous sites for he presided over the Golden Age of its civilisation, and as a skilled military commander won the conquests that made it into a powerful empire.

What interested Balabanova was what happened to Ramses 3000 years later, when he went on his final royal visit.

On september 26th, 1976, amid all the pomp and circumstance - due a visiting head of state - French TV cameras recorded the arrival of the mummy of Ramses II at an airport in Paris. An exhibition about him at the museum of mankind was planned. But the body was found to be badly deteriorated, so a battery of scientist set about trying to repair this damage.

The bandages wrapped around the mummy needed replacing, so botanists were given pieces of the fabric to analyse what it was made of. One found some plant fragments in her piece, and took a closer look. Emerging on the slide, according to her experience, were the unmistakable features - the tiny crystals and filaments - of a plant that couldn't possibly be there.

DR MICHELLE LESCOT - Natural History Museum, Paris:
"I prepared the slides, put them under the microscope and what did I see? Tobacco. I said to myself, that's just not possible - I must be dreaming. The Egyptians didn't have tobacco. It was brought from South America at the time of Christopher Columbus. I looked again, and I tried to get a better view and I thought, well, it's only a first analysis. I worked feverishly and I forgot to have lunch that day. But I kept getting the same result."

NARRATOR:
Amid a storm of publicity people alleged - just as they did with Balabanova's results - that this must be a case of contamination. It's a view shared today by Ramses' keeper at the Cairo museum, who suspects there is a straightforward explanation.

PROF NASRI ISKANDER - Chief Curator, Cairo Museum:
"According to my knowledge and experience, most of the archeologists and scientists who worked on these fields smoked pipes. And I myself have been smoking pipes for more than 25 years. Then maybe a piece of the tobacco dropped by haphazard or just anyway and to tell this is right or wrong we have to be more careful"

NARRATOR:
To combat the allegations of careless smoking Michelle Lescot extracted new samples from deep inside the body of Ramses' mummy and took care to document it with photographs. And as far as she was concerned, these samples again gave the same result - tobacco.

So was Lecot's discovery the proof Balabanova needed for an ancient species of tobacco? For a second opinion, we went to the herbarium at the Natural History Museum to find an expert on tobacco who had seen Lescot's published work. She argued that Lescot's evidence would only identify the family from which tobacco comes, and not the specific plant.
DR SANDY KNAPP - Natural History Museum, London:
"I think that they had a certain amount of evidence, and they took the evidence one step farther than the evidence really allowed them. Sometimes you can only go so far down the road towards telling what something is, and then you come against a wall an you can't go any farther, otherwise you start to make something up."

NARRATOR:
Sandy Knapp thought the plant from Ramses was more likely to be another member of the tobacco family, which is known to have existed in ancient Egypt, such as henbane, mandrake or belladonna.

DR SANDY KNAPP - Natural History Museum, London:
"I think it is very unlikely that tobacco has an alternative history, because, I think we would've heard about it. There'd be some use of it present in either literature, temple carvings, somewhere there would've been evidence to point and say 'Ah, that's tobacco', but there's nothing."

DR MICHELLE LESCOT - Natural History Museum, Paris:
"It’s true that the official theory is tobacco originates in South America. It's also true that there are species in Australasia and the Pacific Islands. There could have been other varieties, ancient varieties that once existed in Asia. Why not Africa? Varieties that have now disappeared so it's not sacrilege to challenge the official theory."

NARRATOR:
The jury was still out on the vanished species of tobacco though Michelle Lescot was convinced that her identification had been correct. But she couldn't help with the cocaine, for it seemed not even one botanist believed in a disappearing coca plant.

DR SANDY KNAPP - Natural History Museum, London:
"Finding cocaine in these Egyptian mummies - botanically speaking - is almost impossible. I mean, there is always a chance that there might be some sort of plant there, but I think there is some sort of mistake. There is something wrong there. I can't explain it from a plant point of view at all."

NARRATOR:
For thousands of years people in the Andes have been chewing coca leaves, to get out the cocaine with it's stimulant, anaesthetic and euphoric properties. There are actually species of the coca family which grow in Africa, but only the South American species has ever been shown to contain the drug. Since cocaine is not in any other plants, Balabanova was completely mystified, but she thought she might have just one possible idea.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"The cocaine of course remains an open question. It's a mystery - it's completely unclear how cocaine could get into Africa. On the other hand, we know there were trade relationships long before Columbus, and it's conceivable that the coca plant had been imported into Egypt even then."

NARRATOR:
An ancient Egyptian drug trade stretching all the way across the Atlantic Ocean? This was an idea so far-fetched it could only be considered once all the others had been eliminated, the idea that the Egyptians had been able to obtain imports from a place thousands of miles away from a continent supposedly not discovered until thousands of years later.


Was it possible that coca - a plant from South America - had been finding its way to Egypt 3,000 years ago?

If the cocaine found in mummies could not be explained by contamination, or fake mummies or by Egyptian plants containing it, there appeared to be only one remaining possibility... An international drug trade who's links extended all the way to the Americas.
To obtain incense, myrrh and other valuable plants used in religious ceremonies and herbal medicines, it's true, the Egyptians were prepared to go to great lengths.

Even if traders, like today, made all sorts of exotic claims for the source of their products, there is nevertheless clear evidence of ancient contacts as far east as Syria and Iraq. The extended north into Cyprus, south into Sudan and Somalia and west into Libya, but America? To the majority of archeologists, the idea is hardly worth talking about.

PROF JOHN BAINES - Egyptologist, Oxford University:
"The idea that the Egyptians were travelling to America is, overall, absurd. I don't know of anyone who is professionally employed as an Egyptologist, anthropologist or archaeologist who seriously believes in any of these possibilities, and I also don't know anyone who spends time doing research into these areas because they're perceived to be areas with any real meaning for the subjects."

NARRATOR:
But on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where the moving current of the Gulf Stream arrives in Mexico directly from the west coast of Africa, there is a professionally employed anthropologist who does seriously believe in such possibilities.

PROF ALICE KEHOE - Anthropologist, Marquette University:
"I think there is good evidence that there was both transatlantic and transpacific travel before Columbus. When we try to talk about trans-oceanic contact, people that are standard archeologists get very, um, skittish, and they want to change the subject or move away. They suddenly see a friend across the room - they don't want to pursue the subject at all. They seem to feel that it's some kind of contagious disease they don't want to touch, or it will bring disaster to them."

NARRATOR:
Why was the mere contemplation of voyages before Columbus or the Viking crossings to America, thought to be some sort of curse?


It was in 1910 that some early anthropologists began to theorise that the stepped pyramids in Mexico might not have been the invention of the American Indians. Could the technology have come from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, from Egypt, where there were also stepped pyramids?

After spotting other transatlantic similarities, anthropologists began to argue that all civilisation was invented in Egypt and later handed down to what they regarded as primitive societies. The implication that Old World culture was superior was thought acceptable at that time.

But the arrival of modern dating techniques showed that the similarities were far more likely to be independent developments. For example, the Egyptians abandoned pyramids with steps in favour of smooth ones 2,000 years before the first stepped pyramids occur in the Americas. What's more, the suggestion that American Indians couldn't build their own civilisations became highly unpopular.

Despite a brief revival in the 1970's when anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic in a primitive reed boat, research into ancient contact with America was frowned on, even if connected with theories of cultural superiority.

But the idea that the ability of the ancients to cross the oceans might have been underestimated continues to be quietly whispered about. Over the years evidence has grown which suggests it might be time to look again at such voyages. To imagine that the Egyptians, who apparently only sailed up and down the Nile or into the Red Sea, might get as far as the Americas perhaps sounds fantastical. But in science, what is one day thought absurd can next day become accepted as fact.

 http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/images/Canada/factfile/Carlb-ansemeadows-vinland-01.jpg
[Picture of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland]

One senior academic thinks it's important to remember that before the discovery of this Norse settlement in Newfoundland in 1965 theories about Viking voyages to America were dismissed as nonsense.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"What we've seen is a shift from the idea of Viking landings in America being seen as completely fantastic or partisan, to being accepted by every scholar in the field."

NARRATOR: The fact that evidence of the Viking crossings was hidden has encouraged Martin Bernal to contemplate even earlier voyages that are likewise dismissed as impossible.
PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"I have no reason to doubt that there were others - but what they were, and how much influence they had on American society is open to question. But that trans-oceanic voyages are possible - or were possible - seems to me to be overwhelmingly likely."

NARRATOR:
A likelihood Bernal believes is reinforced by some Roman jars found in 1975 in a place called the Bay of Jars in Brazil. It's been suggested that a Roman galley could be buried under the sea. But the interpretation of such finds is heavily disputed.

PROF JOHN BAINES - Egyptologist, Oxford University:
"They would fit the possibility that there was the odd ship that by mistake ended up on the other side of the Atlantic. What they're not going to fit is the idea of sustained two way contact, because there is a huge amount of historical evidence from the Roman world, but there is nothing to suggest such contact existed."

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"They can't have been planted because the bay was known as the Bay of Jars since the 18th century, so that Roman jars had been turning up, and this links up with indirect Roman documentary evidence of contact."

NARRATOR:
The Bay of Jars is only one of several oddities claimed as evidence of transatlantic contacts. Also in Brazil, there is an inscription said to be in an ancient Mediterranean language. Meanwhile, in Mexico, there are 3,000 year old figurines with beards, a feature unknown in native Americans plus colossal statues that are said to look African, and an apparent picture of a pineapple - an American fruit - has been found in Pompeii.


But if tobacco from Mexico or coca from the Andes was carried across an ocean, it apparently need not have been the Atlantic. According to Alice Kehoe, a number of other American plants mysteriously turn up outside the "sealed" continent. But they are found on the other side of the Pacific.
PROF ALICE KEHOE - Anthropologist, Marquette University:
"The one that absolutely proves trans-pacific voyaging is the sweet potato. There are also discoveries of peanuts more than 2,000 years ago in western China. There is a temple is southern India that has sculptures of goddesses holding what looks like ears of maize or corn."

NARRATOR:
And if American maize might have got as far as India, why couldn't tobacco or coca have reached Egypt? They could have come across the Pacific to China or Asia and then overland to Africa. The Egyptians need not have travelled to America at all, or known where the plants had originated, but could have got them indirectly, through a network of world trade. But any ancient trade route that includes America is unacceptable in archeology.

PROF JOHN BAINES - Egyptologist, Oxford University:
"I don't think it is at all likely that there was an ancient trade network that included America. The essential problem with any such idea is that there are no artefacts to back it up that have been found either in Europe or in America. And I know that people produce examples of possible things, but they're really very implausible."

NARRATOR:
Yet discovery of minute strands of silk found in the hair of a mummy from Luxor could suggest the trade stretching from Egypt to the Pacific. For silk at this time was only known to come from China. Martin Bernal argues that it would be a pity to replace earlier cultural arrogance with an arrogant belief in progress.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL - Historian, Cornell University:
"We're getting more and more evidence of world trade at an earlier stage. You have the Chinese silk definitely arriving in Egypt by 1,000 BC. I think modern scholars have a tendency to believe rigidly in progress and the idea that you could only have a worldwide trading network from the 18th century onwards, is our temporal arrogance - that it's only modern people that can do these things."

NARRATOR:
The evidence for ancient trade with America is limited, and most of it is disputed, but it can't be completely ruled out as explaining the apparent impossibility of Balabanova's results, results that at first seemed so absurd many thought they would be explained away by a simple story of a botch-up in a lab, results that still without firm explanation continue to crop up in unexpected places.

For in Manchester, the mummies under the care of Rosalie David, the Egyptologist once so sure that Balabanova had made a mistake, produced some odd results of their own.
ROSALIE DAVID - Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum:
"We've received results back from the tests on our mummy tissue samples and two of the samples and the one hair sample both have evidence of nicotine in them. I'm really very surprised at this."

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA - Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
"The results of the tests on the Manchester mummies have made me very happy after all these years of being accused of false results and contaminated results, so I was delighted to hear nicotine had been found in these mummies, and very, very happy to have this enormous confirmation of my work."

NARRATOR:
The tale of Henut Taui shows that in science facts can be rejected if they don't fit with our beliefs while what is believed proven may actually be uncertain.

Little wonder then, that a story that began with one scientist, a few mummies and some routine tests in no time at all could upset whole areas of knowledge we thought we could take for granted.



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http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/images/Canada/factfile/Carlb-ansemeadows-vinland-01.jpg

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  1. Just say Ancient Hebrew Israelites founded America, just say it already and the TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!!! You know and I know that Native Americans are the true Hebrew Peoples!

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    Replies
    1. Those fraudulent claims by the lying Elders of Moronism have been thoroughly discredited. The ancestors of today's Native Americans were there at least 13,000 years ago.

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