Cocaine, Nicotine and Atlantis
Cocaine and Atlantis is an idea that developed after the discovery of traces of nicotine in an Egyptian mummy in 1976 by Dr. Michelle Lescott from the Museum of Natural History in Paris and later confirmed by Dr. Svetlana Balabanova, a forensic toxicologist at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Ulm in Germany, who also found traces of cannabis, tobacco and cocaine. She discovered traces of nicotine and cocaine in a number of other mummies(a).
“The deeply, disturbingly strange part of all this, is that neither the coca plant (from which cocaine is derived), nor the tobacco plant (which produces nicotine) are native to Egypt. Nor are they native to Africa in general. Or Europe. Or Asia, even. Those two plants are indigenous only to South America.”
Tobacco first came to Europe from South America during the time of Columbus, 2700 years later, apparently ruling out the possibility of tobacco being present during the reign of Ramses circa 1213 BC – or does it?
The nicotine discovery may have its significance weakened by the conclusions of an article published in the April/May 1949 edition of Egerton Sykes’ Atlantis Research magazine entitled Did Tobacco Originate In Africa?, by M. Brenda Francklyn. In it the author quotes from an earlier book, The Ivory Coast, which recounts a myth from West Africa that suggests that the tobacco plant originated there and was in fact exported from there to the Americas!
It did not take long for supporters of Balbanova’s conclusions to propose that specific drugs found in the mummies were evidence of ancient transatlantic travel, while others linked this with the theory of a South American Atlantis.>A 2023 article by Richard Milner is typical of the thinking behind this idea(d).<
Another site offers an interesting overview of the cocaine mummies debate(c).
However, the story does not end there because Carl Feagans has offered a rational argument in support of a more sceptical view of the transatlantic claim concluding that “in order accept that ancient Egyptians between 1000 BCE and 1100 CE traveled back and forth to South America, bringing back tobacco and coca leaves we must assume:
1) The Egyptians had sea-worthy boats
2) They didn’t find the journey significant enough to write about
3) There were no sources of THC, nicotine, or cocaine available from Africa, the Near East, or Asia.
There are some other assumptions as well, but these would seem to be the most significant.” (b)
>The Hall of Maat website offers an extensive article on this whole subject that included two comments in its conclusions that may be considered relevant(e).
(1) “The discovery of cocaine in Egyptian mummies is however not so easy to account for as no direct evidence unequivocally supports any particular contention.”
(2) “Cocaine containing plants, such as E. monogynum, which is present in India, could have been acquired by the ancient Egyptians or in neighbouring areas which the Egyptians traded with.”<