October 13, 2021
Researchers have found the oldest human use of tobacco at a US Air Force base in Utah. Four charred tobacco seeds show that inhabitants of this site were chewing tobacco 12,300 years ago, 9.000 years earlier than previously thought. The seeds were found in an open air camp with a hearth, animal bones and stone tools. The camp is called Wishbone site because hundreds of bones of water fowl were found there, the main food source for these inhabitants.
The previous believed oldest tobacco find was in Alabama, where tobacco residue was found in a 3,300 year old smoking pipe. Tobacco would not have grown in the humid area where the seeds were found, so the seeds had to have been transported from elsewhere.
The seeds found at Wishbone belong to Nicotiana attenuata, the species of wild tobacco with the highest content of nicotine, thus the tobacco was selected out.
The people of Wishbone site belonged to the so-called Haskett culture. This was a stone tool complex that developed around 13,000 years ago
The tobacco at Wishbone may have had ceremonial value, or enjoyed for the energy and focus that a stimulant such as nicotine could provide to exhausted hunter-gatherers.
It’s also addictive, so in the end it would probably become part of your everyday life.
The research is published in the journal Nature Human Behavior,
Haaretz has the report here: