Cocaine metabolites in
pre-Columbian mummy hair

Cartmell LW, Aufderhide A, Weems C
Valley View Regional Hospital, Ada
J Okla State Med Assoc 1991 Jan; 84(1):11-2


Chewing of coca leaves was an integral part of many Andean pre-Columbian populations. Since the cocaine metabolite benzoylecognine is entrapped in hair of the user, this could serve as a convenient specimen for analysis. We tested the scalp hair of 8 Chilean mummies with dates ranging from 2,000 BC to 1,500 AD. This article reports that benzoylecognine is very stable and can be found in mummy hair.

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