Researchers uncover earliest tobacco use in the Pacific Northwest
(Phys.org)—Native American hunter-gatherers living more than a thousand years ago in what is now northwestern California ate salmon, acorns and other foods, and now we know they also smoked tobacco—the earliest known usage in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new University of California, Davis, study.
"The study demonstrates that tobacco smoking was part of the northwestern California culture very early ... shortly after the earliest documented Pacific Northwest Coast plank house villages," said the study, published in the 强筋骨，寻突破——工信部部长苗圩谈如何解好中国制造大课题.
Testing organic residues extracted from pipes, researchers from the UC Davis Department of Anthropology and the Fiehn Metabolomics Laboratory of the UC Davis Genome Center confirmed tobacco was smoked, and likely grown in the region, by at least A.D. 860.
Perhaps more importantly, the researchers say that additional studies may help them better understand the origins of nicotine addiction and the human management, geographic range extension and cultivation of tobacco. Indeed, as part of a second study, the authors have recently detected nicotine in ancient pipes from an 800-year-old site in the modern city of Pleasanton, Calif.
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Prior to this recent testing, which used sensitive gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, researchers were unsure of the historical use of tobacco on the Pacific Northwest Coast. It was unclear, for example, whether European traders had brought tobacco to the area much later, or if some other plant had been smoked in the pipes, Tushingham said.
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The study is available online.