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Recent Archaeobotanical Findings of the Hallucinogenic Snuff Cojoba (Anadenanthera Peregrin A (L.) Speg.) in Precolonial Puerto Rico

  • Jaime R. Pagán-Jiménez (a1) and Lisabeth A. Carlson (a2)
Abstract

Archaeological starch grains consistent with those produced and stored in modern cojoba (Anadenanthera peregrina) seeds were identified, for the first time in the West Indies, in a coral milling base recovered in a small precolonial habitation site of Eastern Puerto Rico, in a context dated to A.D. 1150-1250. Ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and previous archaeological data on cojoba from the West Indies and South America were surveyed in order to form plausible sociocultural interpretations of the findings. After experimentally assessing some ethnographic protocols that possibly replicate various ancient ways of processing cojoba seeds for producing hallucinogenic powders related to the so-called ritual de la cojoba, this report proposes that cojoba seeds were processed and used here mainly as an hallucinogenic complement to the healer for the divination of illness.

Resumen

Granos de almidón arqueológicos que coinciden con aquellos producidos y almacenados en las semillas modernas de cojoba (Anadenanthera peregrina) fueron identificados, por primera vez en las Antillas, en una base de molino de coral recuperada en un pequeño sitio habitacional del oriente de Puerto Rico, en un contexto fechado entre 1150 y 1250 d.C. Parafigurar interpretaciones socioculturales plausibles de estos hallazagos, exploramos datos etnohistóricos, etnográficosy arqueólogicos previos acerca de la cojoba en las Antillas y en Suramèrica. Luego de evaluar experimentalmente algunos protocolos etnográficos que posiblemente replican varias formas antiguas del procesamiento de semillas de cojoba para producir polvos alucinógenosvinculados con el llamado ritual de la cojoba, este reporte propone que la cojoba fue procesada y utilizada aquí, principalmente, como un complemento alucinógeno de los curanderos para la adivinación de enfermedades.

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