David wart at
Sun Sep 7 06:00:45 UTC 1997

On Sun, 7 Sep 1997, Anshuman Pandey wrote:

> 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.
> Regards,
> Anshuman Pandey

There is reference to the same discovery in the Science Frontiers Web
Site at

Considering the rest of the web site, I'd be a bit skeptical...

David Allen

 email: wart at

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