It is historically believed that the indigenous peoples of the New World began to smoke tobacco around 3,000 years ago, a delightful discovery that Sir Walter Raleigh brought back to England in the 16th century. But recently uncovered evidence now strongly suggests that tobacco use is much older than originally believed and that it has been part of North American history for some 12,000 years.
In 2015, a prehistoric site was discovered during a routine archaeological survey of the Great Salt Lake Desert in Utah. The area, dubbed the Wishbone site, was later excavated by Daron Duke and his team at the Far Western Anthropological Research Group Inc. According to a CNN report, they found an outbreak dating to around 10,000 BC. expected discoveries such as obsidian spear points and animal bones. But the team’s botanist also noticed something quite unexpected: charred tobacco seeds. The tiny seeds were too small to date directly, but carbon dating of several samples from the hearth showed the fire was started around 12,300 years ago.
The area at that time would not have been as we know it today – back then it would have been a wetland full of vegetation and wildlife for Stone Age hunters to provide food to their families. In fact, the desert is the bottom of what was once a giant lake. Agriculture and the domesticated cultivation of plants, including tobacco, took place about 2,000 years later. Humans at that time are said to have been nomadic hunter-gatherers who traveled great distances following herds of animals to hunt, feeding as they went, this is how tobacco seeds may have grown. be found in damp areas, an area where they do not grow. .
According to Duke, the team ruled out the possibility that the seeds ended up in the outbreak by natural means, such as the stomach of one of the ducks or other waterfowl whose bones were found at the site. . The seeds were also unlikely to come from burning tobacco in a fire, as its lack of woody fiber makes it a less than desirable fuel source.
The accepted theory is that the seeds ended up in the fire by being smoked or chewed and spat out by hunter-gatherers.
Regardless of how it was used, it seems our prehistoric brethren enjoyed the pleasant company of tobacco as they sat around the fire.