A new study co-authored by a UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History archaeologist provides the first unambiguous evidence of the use of psychedelics at a Native American rock art site.
Archaeologists have long debated whether mind-altering substances influenced the making of ancient art in caves and rock shelters. The research offers new insight into the roles such substances may have played in some Native American communities.
At Southern California’s Pinwheel Cave, a rock art site associated with the Chumash people, the authors discovered wads of chewed plant fibers, or quids, stuffed into crevices in the cave ceiling. Chemical and microscopic analysis of the 400-year-old quids revealed the presence of hallucinogenic alkaloids and confirmed most specimens to be Datura wrightii, or sacred datura, a flowering plant native to California and historically used among the Chumash for ceremonial purposes.
The study, published last week…