Did hallucinogenic alcohol fuel politics in ancient Peru?

Now, the discovery of psychotropic plant remains in a Wari “brewery” leads researchers to suggest that the Wari may also have combined the two intoxicants for one brew with an even bigger political punch.

Learn more about how alcohol fueled the development of the arts, language and religion.

The find was made at the site of Quilcapampa, a Wari village in southern Peru, where the extremely arid environment preserved the remains of what locals ate and drank just before abandoning the site at the end of the 9th century AD Here archaeologists have found 1,100 years old traces of potatoes, quinoa and peanuts, as well as an impressive number of berry-like fruits of the soft (Taupe Schinus) tree, which the Wari often used to make shisha with an alcohol content of around 5 percent.

Among the soaked or boiled fruits that remained from the making of the shisha, there were psychotropic drugs vilca seeds of the Anadenanthera colubrina tree. Archaeological evidence shows that vilca was used as a hallucinogen in ancient South America, but generally only by political and religious elites, according to National Geographic Explorer. Justin jennings, archaeologist at Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the lead author of the study, which was funded in part by National Geographic.

Edward K. Thompson