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Possible Traces of Calming Drug Found in Sacrificed Inca Children

Monday, May 16, 2022

WARSAW, POLAND—Science News reports that bioarchaeologist Dagmara Socha of the University of Warsaw and her colleagues have detected traces of harmine and harmaline in the hair and fingernails of two Inca children who were sacrificed some 500 years ago and buried on Peru’s Ampato Mountain. The presence of these chemicals in the children’s remains suggest that they may have ingested the vine Banisteriopsis caapi in the days or weeks before their deaths, Socha explained. Tests of the effects of harmine in rodents suggest that it may work like an antidepressant, so a drink made with Banisteriopsis caapi may have been given to the children in order to calm their nerves as they traveled from their homes to the capital city of Cuzco for official ceremonies and then on to Ampato Mountain, Socha said. To read about an Inca ritual box found in Lake Titicaca, go to "Artifact."

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