Antiquity of coca-leaf chewing in the south central Andes: a 3,000 year archaeological record of coca-leaf chewing from northern Chile

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2005 Dec;37(4):455-8. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2005.10399820.


Carbon-14 (14C) dating from mummies of the Alto Ramirez culture confirms that coca leaf chewing was an incipient practice among members of a population that peopled the valleys and coastal areas of Northern Chile by 3,000 years before the present (yr.B.P.). Out of eleven bodies from the burial site of Pisagua-7 (PSG-7, S 19 degrees 35', W 70 degrees 13') that were analyzed, two samples tested positive. Mummy 725-A C2 (dated 3,090 to 2,850 two sigma calibrated 14C years before the present) was shown to have a cocaine value of 13.3 nanograms/10 milligrams of sample (ng/10mg), and mummy 741 (2,890 to 2,760 two sigma cal yr B.P.), a 5.6 ng/10mg value.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Chile
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Coca / chemistry*
  • Cocaine / analysis*
  • Female
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastication
  • Mummies / history
  • Paleodontology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry*
  • Radioimmunoassay / methods


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Cocaine