Anshuman Pandey apandey at
Sun Sep 7 01:41:12 UTC 1997

On Thu, 4 Sep 1997, Joel H. Tatelman wrote:

> I can confirm that tobacco, tomatoes, chillies and potatoes were brought
> back from the Americas by the early European explorers and from there
> disseminated to Asia.

I recall watching an episode on Discovery titled "The Curse of the Cocaine
Mummies" which discussed the controversy surrounding the data that some
Egyptian mummies were found to have traces of nicotine and cocaine in
their hair. Arguments that the mummies were recent or fake were made by
those who opposed the theory that the Egyptians knew of tobacco before
Columbus. The opponents also claimed that the nicotine traces found on
these mummies could have come from other plants besides tobacco. Tests
were run on samples collected from these mummies, and along with
cross-disciplinarian research it was determined that these mummies were
indeed from a period before Columbus. The primary researcher stated
that the concentration of nicotine found could come only from tobacco. The
question of how nicotine could have been known to the Egyptians was left
unanswered (as far as I remember!).

That's a fairly unjust summary of the interesting episode. I believe it
aired sometime in the beginning of August. I'll try to dig up additional
information about the programme and post it if I am able to find it.

Anshuman Pandey

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