The Mystery of Cocaine Mummies

Ancient history holds many secrets, and one intriguing mystery revolves around the possibility of ancient Egyptians venturing across the Atlantic Ocean, a staggering 3,000 years before Christopher Columbus’s famed 1492 expedition. The evidence supporting this theory isn’t limited to cultural similarities observed in places like Peru and the Canary Islands, where practices such as trepanning and Cocaine Mummies have been discovered. It also stems from the examination of actual Egyptian mummies themselves.

Clinging Grains of Tobacco on Ramses the Great

Dr. Svelta Balabanova.

In 1976, Dr. Michelle Lescott, working at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, received a sample from the mummified remains of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses the Great. Under an electron microscope, she made a surprising discovery—grains of tobacco clung to the fibers of his bandages.

This groundbreaking revelation faced initial skepticism, with authorities and senior colleagues suggesting contamination from modern sources. They posited scenarios like an archaeologist smoking a pipe in the vicinity or even traces of a workman’s sneeze. However, this theory was put into question because tobacco only arrived in Europe from South America during Columbus’s time, a staggering 2,700 years later, making its presence in Ramses’s era around 1213 BC improbable.

Traces of Cannabis, Coca, and Tobacco Inside Ramses

Henut Taui, known as ‘the lady of the two lands.

Several years later, Dr. Svelta Balabanova, a forensic toxicologist at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at ULM, took Dr. Lescott’s findings a step further. To eliminate the possibility of contemporary contamination, she collected samples of intestinal tissue from deep within Ramses’s remains, instead of relying on the external layers of skin and cloth. Her astonishment knew no bounds when she uncovered traces of cannabis, coca, and tobacco laid down in his body cells, resembling the rings in a tree.

Despite Dr. Balabanova’s excellent reputation, her discoveries contradicted conventional explanations of intercontinental contact thousands of years in the past. However, in 1992, a decade later, seven ancient Egyptian mummies were transported from the Cairo Museum to Munich for further analysis. Dr. Balabanova conducted a series of gas chromatography tests on these mummies, and the results were astonishing. One of the mummies, Henut Taui, ‘the lady of the two lands,’ a priestess from the 21st Dynasty of ancient Egypt, around 1000 BC, displayed the presence of nicotine and cocaine. This time, the mummies and their results were deemed entirely credible. That they called Cocaine Mummies.

The Theory of Trade and Cultural Contact

Author and researcher Dr. Alexander Sumach suggested that Egypt might have obtained these plants through trade with distant lands across the ancient world. This theory opens the door to the plausible idea of intercontinental cultural contact, which might have occurred during various phases of human history.

Professor Martin Bernal, a historian at Cornell University, is among numerous scholars who acknowledge the existence of ancient trade links that predate conventional estimates. The mounting evidence for early world trade challenges previously accepted notions and encourages us to explore the possibility of transoceanic contact throughout different eras of human history.

Ferdinand Magellan, Enrique of Malacca, and Ancient Ocean Voyages

Enrique of Malacca.

The historical account of Ferdinand Magellan’s quest to circumnavigate the world by sea in 1519 is well-known. However, the truth reveals a different narrative. Magellan met his demise during a local battle on April 27, 1521. It was his personal slave, Enrique of Malacca, who managed to accomplish the daunting voyage around the vast ocean, effectively becoming the first person in recorded history to do so.

History alludes to several ancient crossings of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Yet, recent evidence suggests that these maritime activities might have occurred thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

Ancient Egyptian Inscriptions and Distant Travels

This is a 1814 depiction of Pitcairn’s Island in the South Seas by J. Shillibeer, held in the State Library of New South Wales. ( Source )

Pitcairn Island, an isolated volcanic formation in the Pacific Ocean, was officially sighted in 1767. It’s most famously known as the settlement of the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers in 1789. However, it appears they weren’t the first inhabitants.

An Overlooked Message from Manu Region

This world map was created by the Ottoman admiral Piri Reis in 1513, but it is believed to be based on much older maps. ( Source )

In 1820, an inscription was discovered on Pitcairn Island, written in the Libyan dialect of ancient Egyptian. It read:

“Our crew, wrecked in a storm, made land thank God.

We are people from the Manu region. We worship Ra

in accordance with the scripture. We behold the sun

and give voice.”

Manu is a highland area in Libya. This enigmatic discovery raises questions about how ancient Egyptian travelers reached these shores and why this evidence has been largely ignored. Could it be that historians have dismissed the idea of sailors crossing the Pacific in ancient times?


The mystery of Cocaine Mummies a ancient Egyptian voyages across the Atlantic offers a fascinating glimpse into the possibilities of early intercontinental exchanges. The evidence presented, from tobacco on Ramses’s mummy to inscriptions on remote islands, challenges our understanding of history and urges us to explore the vast depths of human exploration.

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