Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

Archaeologists have found charred tobacco seeds in the remains of a fireplace in the Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah, dating back more than 12,000 years. Here, Kelly McGuire digs by the fireplace. (Image credit: Daron Duke)

Charred seeds found in the Utah desert represent the earliest known human use of tobacco, evidence that some of the first humans to arrive in America used the plant, according to new research. The discovery reveals that humans used tobacco nearly 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, the researchers said.

Of all the intoxicating plants that humans use and abuse, tobacco has undoubtedly had the most critical social and economic impact, the researchers say in the new study. It often played sacred, ceremonial, or medical roles among ancient Maya and other Native American groups, and it helped drive the American colonial economy and thus Western expansion throughout the New World.

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