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Early Holocene coca chewing in northern Peru

  • Tom D. Dillehay (a1) (a2), Jack Rossen (a3), Donald Ugent (a4), Anathasios Karathanasis (a5), Víctor Vásquez (a6) and Patricia J. Netherly (a1)...


Chewing coca in South America began by at least 8000 cal BP: our authors found and identified coca leaves of that date in house floors in the Nanchoc Valley, Peru. There were also pieces of calcite — which is used by chewers to bring out the alkaloids from the leaves. Excavation and chemical analysis at a group of neighbouring sites suggests that specialists were beginning to extract and supply lime or calcite, and by association coca, as a community activity at about the same time as systematic farming was taking off in the region.


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