Thursday, October 23, 2008

New scientific evidence further confirms Terence McKenna's Stoned Ape theory!

Alex_Grey_visionary origin of language

From: The UK Telegraph
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
1:05PM BST 20 Oct 2008

Stone Age man took drugs, say scientists
Scientists have discovered evidence suggesting Stone Age man used herbal mixtures to get high.

It has long been suspected that humans have an ancient history of drug use, but there has been a lack of proof to support the theory.

Now, however, researchers have found equipment used to prepare hallucinogenic drugs for sniffing, and dated them back to prehistoric South American tribes.

Quetta Kaye, of University College London, and Scott Fitzpatrick, an archeologist from North Carolina State University, made the breakthrough on the Caribbean island of Carriacou.

They found ceramic bowls, as well as tubes for inhaling drug fumes or powders, which appear to have originated in South America between 100BC and 400BC and were then carried 400 miles to the islands.

While the use of such paraphernalia for inhaling drugs is well-known, the age of the bowls has thrown new light on how long humans have been taking drugs.

Scientists believe that the drug being used was cohoba, a hallucinogen made from the beans of a mimosa species. Drugs such as cannabis were not found in the Caribbean then.

Opiates can be obtained from species such as poppies, while fungi, which was widespread, may also have been used.

Archeologists have suggested that humans were extracting mind-expanding drugs from mescal beans and peyote cacti as far back as 5,000 years ago, but have not found direct evidence that this is true.

They consider that drugs were being used to induce spiritual or trance-like states by people who had religious beliefs.


Summary of Terence McKenna's "Stoned Ape" Theory of Human Evolution

McKenna theorizes that as the North African jungles receded toward the end of the most recent ice age, giving way to grasslands, a branch of our tree-dwelling primate ancestors left the branches and took up a life out in the open -- following around herds of ungulates, nibbling what they could along the way.

Among the new items in their diet were psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing in the dung of these ungulate herds. The changes caused by the introduction of this drug to the primate diet were many -- McKenna theorizes, for instance, that synesthesia (the blurring of boundaries between the senses) caused by psilocybin led to the development of spoken language: the ability to form pictures in another person's mind through the use of vocal sounds.

About 12,000 years ago, further climate changes removed the mushroom from the human diet, resulting in a new set of profound changes in our species as we reverted to pre-mushroomed and frankly brutal primate social structures that had been modified and/or repressed by frequent consumption of psilocybin.

McKenna's "Stoned Ape" Theory, in his own words -- excerpts from interviews, transcripts, etc.

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Peter B Lloyd said...

James, thanks for this pointer (in fact, thanks for your whole great blog). It's encouraging to see archaeological back-up, however tentative, for the beguiling McKenna hypothesis of the psychedelic origins of human consciousness as we know it. BTW I organised a small conference in Malta last year to explore this idea ( but there's painfully little to go on. Another promising area is Paul Devereux's working on megalithic acoustics as an inducer of trance states, and I'm hoping to get an update from him at the next Metageum event in London in March, on acoustic measurements he made in underground Neolithic temples in Malta. Peter B Lloyd

Brian Akers said...

Interesting to see how the "Let's Talk About Stoned Apes" sequence has ... uh, evolved since 2008.

Back then, it was thought that human evolution, as 'catalyzed' by - you know what (according to you-know-who) - had occurred not in Africa, but on this Caribbean island where the ceramic artifacts were found. And as recently as 100-400 BC.

So - as of 2008 there'd already been 'evidence confirming Terence McKenna's Stoned Ape theory!" If I follow the storyline correctly?

And here we're merely advised of new evidence adding to the weight of all whatever previous - that 'further confirms Terence McKenna's Stoned Ape theory!"

Interesting to compare this stage of narrative, as displays here, with how the talk has evolved since 2008. Or might one say - devolved? ;-)