An archaeologist considers the history and biology of what defines a taste of home.
Map shows oldest buildings for each U.S. state – but also hints at what's missing.
- How old is the oldest building in your state? This map will tell you.
- While the East Coast has some pretty ancient stuff, the oldest buildings elsewhere are many centuries older.
- The Pueblo dwellings in the Four Corners states go back to 750 CE.
Oldest drinking establishment<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTU4Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjk1ODM2NX0.IJ6vJ-MxeSdgAkDrvkvQTTXPipbBizbDKHFkNFKUTFs/img.jpg?width=980" id="2ac3b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3cab5af48086fc901853f3e64be5e186" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The White Horse Tavern in Newport, the oldest drinking establishment in the United States." data-width="3000" data-height="2002" />
The White Horse Tavern in Newport, the oldest drinking establishment in the United States.
Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0<p>What's the difference between a European and an American? Well, there are many, but here's a good one: for a European, 100 miles is far; for an American, 100 years is old. </p><p><span></span>It's a cliché with some truth to it. In Europe's political and cultural mosaic, 100 miles may put you in a different country, among people with whom you don't even share a language. Consequently, most Europeans are not keen to move too far away from home. </p><p><span></span>America, on the other hand, was built by and for people with the moving itch. In 2018, <a href="https://www.moving.com/tips/us-moving-statistics-f..." target="_blank">1 in 10 Americans moved home</a>. Of those, 15 percent moved to another state.</p><p>However, what Europe's human geography lacks in long distances, it makes up for in longevity. In Ireland, for example, you can drink at Sean's Bar, which has stood near the banks of the Shannon since the year 900 (for more 'oldest companies', see #<a href="https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/oldest-companies" target="_blank">1042</a>).</p><p>By comparison, the oldest drinking establishment in the United States, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island has only just opened its doors: it's from the late 18th century, which means it's not even three and a half centuries old.</p><p><span></span>As demonstrated by this map of the oldest buildings for each U.S. state (plus Puerto Rico), most of the nation's ancient real estate is even younger: 15 buildings are from the 19th century, 18 are from the 18th century. A further dozen places on the map were built by conquerors and colonizers after the European arrival in the Americas, clocking in at half a millennium or less. </p><p><span></span>The really old stuff is of Native origin – the oldest even predates the Irish drinking establishment by a century and a half. What's remarkable, however, is that there is so little of it. Only six states have Native American (or Hawaiian) structures as their oldest buildings.</p><p><span></span>A few non-sinister reasons can be adduced. Many Native tribes led itinerant lives, without the need for permanent dwellings; and those that did settle down often built houses out of wattle, wood and other matters that easily decay. </p><p>However, the preponderance of 'European' buildings also masks a grimmer truth. Many Native structures were abandoned and fell into disrepair or oblivion when the Europeans arrived, or were destroyed outright. <br></p>
Mounds not included<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTU5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODQ0ODM4NX0.f9aVd-d4fW-6YixSep6J_Z_7u4bYTKpZjnsF5Jam0po/img.png?width=980" id="f3b1c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c76ee52a2fe94dca9eeedd60ddc2aa2d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bDue to the definition used, Native structures that don't qualify as buildings have not been included on the map." data-width="3840" data-height="2160" />
Due to the definition used, Native structures that don't qualify as buildings have not been included on the map.
Credit: Malcolm Tunnell, reproduced with kind permission<p>An argument may be had about the criteria for inclusion. It defines a 'building' as a free-standing, human-made structure used at least at some point for residential purposes, and still standing today. </p><p><span></span>That excludes a lot of older mounds of Native origin, such as the Etowah Indian Mounds (near Atlanta) and Monks' Mound (near St Louis). However, it is unclear why the list should include a number of churches, which never had an appreciable residential function. </p><p><span></span>Finally, this list, culled from the National Register of Historic Places and–gulp–Wikipedia is not without its problems. Some of the datings are disputed, and in several cases, states have competing candidates for 'oldest building'. </p><p>All that being said, the map does present a clear lesson. Leave the states with Native buildings out of the equation, and a familiar pattern becomes visible. The oldest structures are on the Eastern Seaboard, next up are what is now the Midwest and the Pacific coast. Then comes the 'Wild' west, the last frontier. This is the story of westward expansion and fulfillment of Manifest Destiny. </p><p>But the map also reveals traces of an older, less familiar narrative. The Ancestral Puebloans were already carving out their desert mansions around 750 CE, before there even was an England. We know little of the culture that built the Ocmulgee Earthlodge in Georgia around the year 1000. The Malae Heiau barely escaped bulldozing, despite being at least 800 years old. These Native structures, what few remain, contradict the well-worn story – or complete it, if you will. </p><p>Here's an overview of all the places on the map, from youngest to oldest. <br></p>
The 'youngest' oldest building<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjIyMTIyN30.bCU7A55I71nXRurkS8nUbNS4UMnG6Kck_y5NsuLvXnU/img.jpg?width=980" id="a6471" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f46235563618e5555c971c8801028934" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMagazine at Fort Sisseton, the oldest building complex in South Dakota." data-width="2019" data-height="1393" />
Magazine at Fort Sisseton, the oldest building complex in South Dakota.
Credit: Ammodramus, Public Domain.<p><strong>1864 - </strong><strong>South Dakota: Fort Sisseton, Lake City</strong></p><p>The 'youngest' oldest building of any state. Named after a local Indian tribe, this fort is located atop the Coteau des Prairies, an excellent defensive position.</p><p><strong>1855 - Nevada: Old Mormon Fort, Las Vegas</strong></p><p>The first permanent structure in what is now Las Vegas was an adobe fort built by Mormons, sent out from Utah to set up a new stronghold for the Latter-Day Saints. That didn't quite go as planned.</p><p><strong>1853 - Idaho: Cataldo Mission, Cataldo</strong></p><p>The Mission of the Sacred Heart in Cataldo was built by Catholic missionaries to the tribe of the Cœur d'Alene tribe. A picture of this mission hangs in the Brumidi Corridors of the US Capitol.</p><p><strong>1849 - Wyoming: Fort Laramie, Goshen</strong></p><p>Founded as a private fur trading station, later repurposed as a military fort. </p><p><strong>1844 - Montana: Old Fort Benton Blockhouse, Fort Benton</strong></p><p>Once the terminus of the Mullan Road, which linked the Missouri and Columbia rivers, and the last fur trading post on the Upper Missouri River. </p><p><strong>1843 - North Dakota: Kittson Trading Post, Walhalla</strong></p><p>This is the only surviving of three trading posts built by, Norman W. Kittson, trader for the American Fur Company. It was later used as stables for a local hotel. </p><p><strong>1843 - Washington: Fort Nisqually granary, Tacoma</strong></p><p>Founded in 1833 and currently located in Point Defiance Park, Fort Nisqually is the oldest European settlement on Puget Sound. The granary is its oldest surviving building.</p><p><strong>1840 - Oklahoma: Fort Gibson Barracks, Fort Gibson</strong></p><p>In competition for the title of oldest building in the state with the Cherokee National Supreme Court Building in Tahlequah.</p><p><strong>1835 - Nebraska: log cabin, Bellevue</strong></p><p>According to legend, this log cabin was built as an outpost of John Jacob Astor's legendary American Fur Company. Due to a cholera outbreak, it was moved away from the Missouri River, and in 1850 it was relocated to its present position, near the Old Presbyterian Church.</p><p><strong>1833 - Iowa: Louis Arriandeaux Log House, Dubuque</strong></p><p>The log cabin originally stood at 2nd and Locust Streets in Dubuque but has since been moved twice. The oldest building in Iowa, once home to pioneer settler William Newman, can now be found on the grounds of the Mathias Ham House. <br></p>
Grouseland, fit for a president<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYxNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzAwNjE1OH0.a-6FoXJ10GCwQoiXXd7FUDbxzQ0s--fkhj7-3CUOFUA/img.jpg?width=980" id="63e2f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5c6d5e03d7414ecd461cfcc31d35838" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Grouseland was built by William Henry Harrison before he became the 9th president of the United States." data-width="2816" data-height="2112" />
Grouseland was built by William Henry Harrison before he became the 9th president of the United States.
Credit: Nyttend, Public Domain.<p><strong>1824 - Arkansas: Woodruff Print Shop, Little Rock</strong></p><p><strong></strong>In the late 1810s, New Yorker Andrew Woodruff moved to Arkansas, where he would publish the Arkansas Gazette. From 1824, he lived and worked in the print shop that is now part of the Historic Arkansas Museum.</p><p><strong>1820 - Minnesota: Fort Snelling Round Tower, St Paul</strong></p><p><strong></strong>When Fort Snelling was completed in 1825, this tower–built at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers–was already five years old. The Fort's aim was to keep British influence out of what was then the Northwestern United States and it was in service until 1858. </p><p><strong>1810 - Alaska: Baranov Museum, Kodiak</strong></p><p>Originally built as a warehouse for the Russian-American Trading Company in Kodiak, the oldest Russian settlement in Alaska. The building housed workers in the 19th century, was the site of a murder in 1886, and is supposedly haunted. </p><p><strong>1808 - Alabama: Joel Eddins House, Huntsville</strong></p><p>Originally built in Ardmore, this log cabin was moved to its current location in 2007. </p><p><strong>1804 - Indiana: Grouseland, Vincennes</strong></p><p>William Henry Harrison was not only the 9th president of the United States, but also the builder of what has turned out to be the oldest building in Indiana. He built Grouseland, a brick mansion, in 1804 when he was governor of the Indiana Territory. He lived there until 1812, when he took command of American forces in the Northwest Territory in the war with the British. </p><p><strong>1799 - Oregon: Molalla Log House, Molalla</strong></p><p>Built by fur traders of French-Canadian and/or Native American origin.</p><p><strong>1792 - Missouri: Louis Bolduc House, Sainte Genevieve</strong></p><p>Ste Genevieve is Missouri's oldest European settlement, founded by the French and named after the patron saint of Paris. The oldest house in town was built by Louis Bolduc, trader, miner, planter, and a descendant of Louis XIV's apothecary.</p><p><strong>1790 - Kentucky: Historic Locust Grove, Louisville</strong></p><p>In the running for oldest building in Kentucky, in close competition with the Old Providence Church in Winchester, John Andrew Miller House near Georgetown, and others. Lewis and Clark were officially welcomed back here in November 1809, after their western expedition.</p><p><strong>1788 - Ohio: General Rufus Putnam House, Rutland</strong></p><p>Named after Rufus Putnam, a Revolutionary War general who helped found Marietta, Ohio. Now a B&B.<br></p>
The convent saved by prayer<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODEwODE5MX0.-OsynrFzl2b0fUX5v6vYl-WdmYTFs6QOnss1tgXOVcM/img.jpg?width=980" id="b08df" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="96d510ec5d6fa2164c7d9c429b047a32" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans." data-width="4355" data-height="3421" />
The Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans.
Credit: Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress, Public Domain.<p><strong></strong><strong>1785 - West Virginia: Rehoboth Church, Monroe County</strong></p><p>A log cabin outside the town of Union, built as a Methodist church, is now a National Methodist Shrine. </p><p><strong>1780 - Michigan: Officers' Stone Quarters, Mackinac Island</strong></p><p>The Officers' Stone Quarters are the oldest part of Fort Mackinac, an originally British fort on Mackinac Island that was turned over to the Americans in 1796.</p><p><strong>1778 - Tennessee: Christopher Taylor House, Jonesborough</strong></p><p>Built by Christopher Taylor, a veteran of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Andrew Jackson lived in it in 1788-1789 while practicing law in Jonesborough. Possibly the oldest house in the state; another candidate is the Carter Mansion in Elizabethton.</p><p><strong>1776 - Wisconsin: Tank Cottage, Green Bay</strong></p><p>Built by French-Canadian fur trader Joseph Roi on the Fox River, purchased in 1850 by Nils Otto Tank, a Norwegian missionary.</p><p><strong>1776 - California: Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano</strong></p><p>The mission survived dereliction, earthquakes, revolution, and expropriation. In 1910, it was the backdrop for "The Two Brothers" by D.W. Griffith, the first movie shot in Orange County. The mission of San Juan Capistrano is famous for the swallows that return here each spring. Mission San Diego de Alcalá (est. 1769) was the first in California and is thus older; but none of the original buildings survive.</p><p><strong>1769 - Vermont: William Henry House, Bennington</strong></p><p>Built for Elnathan Hubbell and reworked around 1797 for William Henry, a locally prominent politician whose son went on to become a U.S. Congressman. Now operating as a B&B.</p><p><strong>1765 - Washington DC: Old Stone House</strong></p><p>When it was built, the Old Stone House stood in the British colony of Maryland. The building was preserved out of reverence for the city's founders – by accident. It was thought this was where George Washington met with Pierre L'Enfant, who designed the DC street grid. But it turns out this was not Suter's Tavern. At the time, this was a clock shop, owned by the tavern holder's son, John Suter Jr. </p><p><strong>1757 - Mississippi: LaPointe-Krebs House, Pascagoula</strong></p><p>Also known as the Old Spanish Fort, this house is the oldest structure in the entire Mississippi Valley.</p><p><strong>1748 - Louisiana: Old Ursuline Convent, New Orleans</strong></p><p>The convent was spared destruction by a city-wide fire, which stopped just a street short of the building, perhaps thanks to the nuns' prayers to Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Prayers are still addressed to her when hurricanes and other disasters threaten the city. </p><p><strong>1740 - Illinois: Old Cahokia Courthouse, Cahokia</strong></p><p>Built in the 1730s by the French as a house, it has been used as a courthouse since 1793 and is most famous as the headquarters for Lewis and Clark around 1803 when planning their expedition. <br></p>
America’s oldest masonry fortress<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTYzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3Mjg4NjM3OX0.NcDoGkzp2vaRaFHWhphsb9VgicqCAFOMJQq2O2_qJcQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="0dee5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2d001281cb97bb426261e1a69eb01d3e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Castillo de San Marcos, as seen from above." data-width="5948" data-height="4636" />
The Castillo de San Marcos, as seen from above.
Credit: Daniel Cring, CC BY-SA 4.0.<p><strong>1724 - Texas: Alamo Mission Long Barracks, San Antonio</strong></p><p>The oldest extant part of the Alamo, which was founded as a Spanish mission but is best remembered for the Battle of the Alamo (1836), which played an important role in Texan independence from Mexico. </p><p><strong>1718 - North Carolina: Lane House, Edenton</strong></p><p>Steve and Linda Lane didn't know how old their house was until they had it renovated. Behind the cheap wall paneling, the workers found 18th-century timber structures. </p><p><strong>1694 - South Carolina: Middleburg Plantation, Berkeley County</strong></p><p>This two-story frame house was built by Benjamin Simons, a French Huguenot planter, and is still owned by his descendants.</p><p><strong>1675 - Maryland: Old Trinity Church, Church Creek</strong></p><p>An Anglican church since 1692, the building has been Protestant Episcopal since the Revolution. The cemetery holds the remains of several revolutionary war heroes. </p><p><strong>1673 - Rhode Island: White Horse Tavern, Newport</strong></p><p>Not just the oldest building in the state, also the oldest bar in the entire country. In the spirit of its age, the tavern is still lit by oil lamps and candles.</p><p><strong>1672 - Florida: Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine</strong></p><p>The Spanish-built Caste of St Mark is the only surviving 17th-century military structure in the United States. It is also the country's oldest masonry fortress. It is located in St Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental United States. </p><p><strong>1665 - Delaware: Ryves Holt House, Lewes</strong></p><p>Built by Dutch settlers but named after the first Chief Justice of Delaware, who bought it in 1723. </p><p><strong>1660 - Maine: William Whipple House, Kittery</strong></p><p>Birthplace of General William Whipple, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. </p><p><strong>1650 - Kansas: El Quartelejo ruins, Lake Scott S.P.</strong></p><p>The northernmost Native American pueblo and the only one in Kansas, established by a group that left New Mexico. In 1706, the Spanish conquered the area and forced the inhabitants back. The structure was rediscovered in 1898 and is now part of a State Park.</p><p><strong>1650 - Pennsylvania: Lower Swedish Cabin, Drexel Hill</strong></p><p>Now on the outskirts of Philadelphia, this cabin was built by Swedish immigrants as a trading post. It has since served various purposes, including film set and girl scout meeting house. <span></span></p>
Ancestral dwellings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk3NTY0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Mzg3NjAzNH0.xYje3n-guUIGKTS1gOy2zSaBPJGyC0XBwJrg5MhCDog/img.jpg?width=980" id="c2e53" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="179d0c4da43866666bfbe635d0a47f60" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Thousand-year-old Puebloan structures built adjacent the living rock, creating buildings that stood the test of time." data-width="1280" data-height="853" />
Thousand-year-old Puebloan structures built adjacent the living rock, creating buildings that stood the test of time.
Credit: au_ears, CC BY-SA 2.0.<p><strong>1647 - Virginia: Jamestown Church, Jamestown</strong></p><p>Only the tower dates from the 16th century, the rest of this building in Historic Jamestown park is actually the sixth version of the original. In one of those, Pocahontas and John Rolfe got married.</p><p><span></span><strong>1641 - Massachusetts: Fairbanks House, Dedham</strong></p><p>Fairbanks House is the oldest still standing wooden structure in North America. It was built for Jonathan Fairbanks, a tradesman, and his family. His descendants continued to live in the house well into the 20th century. </p><p><span></span><strong>1640 - Connecticut: Henry Whitfield House, Guilford</strong></p><p>Built for the Reverend Henry Whitfield, a Puritan leader and the founder of Guilford. This is the oldest stone house in all of New England.</p><p><span></span><strong>1639 - New York: Gardiners Island shed, Gardiners Island</strong></p><p>A wooden shed purportedly built when Lion Gardiner bought the island from Montaukett chief Wyandanch. Located off the tip of Long Island, Gardiners Island is still owned by Gardiner's descendants. It is one of the largest private islands in the U.S. In June 1699, Captain Kidd buried treasure here (it has since been retrieved – you're too late).</p><p><span></span><strong>1600 - New Hampshire: Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth</strong></p><p>Not a single building but an entire historic district, featuring around 40 restored buildings. Saved from redevelopment in the 1950s, the area opened as a museum in 1965.</p><p><span></span><strong>1521 - Puerto Rico: Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, San Juan</strong></p><p>Extensively added to and renovated since its inauguration almost five centuries ago, this is the oldest church in the United States and its territories.</p><p><span></span><strong>1200 - Hawaii: Malae Heiau, Wailua River S.P.</strong></p><p>The largest <em>heiau</em> (Hawaiian temple) on Kauai, one of the largest surviving temple platforms in all of Hawaii, as well as the oldest building still in existence in the state. </p><p><span></span><strong>1015 - Georgia: Ocmulgee Earth Lodge, Macon</strong></p><p>A reconstructed ceremonial lodge originally built a millennium ago by the South Appalachian Mississippian culture on a site with evidence of 17,000 years of continuous human habitation. It is now part of the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.</p><p><span></span><strong>Ca. 750 - Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico Utah: ancestral Puebloan dwellings</strong></p><p>Hundreds of stone and adobe dwellings, often constructed in canyon walls, scattered throughout the Four Corners states. Most were abandoned around 1300 due to climate change.</p><p><em><br></em></p><p><span></span><em>Map by Malcolm Tunnell, reproduced with kind permission. See the original context </em><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/jvl8w6/o..." target="_blank">here</a>. </p><p><span></span><strong>Strange Maps #1062</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em><br></p>
The Chumash people poked bits of psychoactive plants into cave ceilings next to their paintings.
- Mysterious pinwheel paintings in a California cave are probably representations of the hallucinogen Datura wrightii.
- The paintings were made by the Chumash people 400 years ago.
- This is the first definitive connection between cave painting and hallucinogens.
A suspicion confirmed<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0MzQ3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTgwMjk5NH0.S3cHxTWA0-NnEZE2Pc2wWEvTjbKGINKAEy7gaI0_nxE/img.jpg?width=980" id="44b2f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a8b2cdbfb20dd669a639aa6467f5ff09" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="913" />
Robinson in Pinwheel Cave
Credit: Rick Bury/PNAS<p>About 50 clumps, or "quids," of chewed <em>Datura</em> plant fibers were found tucked into the stone alongside the swirls. It's believed they were painted sometime between 1530 and 1890 by members of the Chumash tribe, linked to today's Tejon people. This is the first time traces of hallucinogens have been found in proximity to cave art. It strongly suggests a connection.</p><p>The discovery was made by archaeologist <a href="https://www.uclan.ac.uk/staff_profiles/dr_david_robinson.php" target="_blank">David Robinson</a> of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the U.K. Robinson has been excavating the cave since 2007.</p><p>As for what those red-ochre pinwheels represent, Robinson asserts that they depict <em>Datura</em> itself and the way that it unwinds at dusk as seen at the top of this article.</p>
Datura wrightii<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0MzQ4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzA1ODM5Mn0.4AU3TZ6B0gntCK45Fkm0_UdMbSXnrQSvAHua0bsj4ec/img.jpg?width=980" id="c3c55" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a3c10957305244183fe3b5f5656a64d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="1440" />
Credit: Dlarsen/Wikimedia Commons<p>Chemical analysis revealed that 15 quid samples contained traces of two hallucinogenic alkaloids found in <em>Datura</em>, scopolamine and atropine. Microscopy revealed that a majority of the quids contained remnants of <em>Datura</em>, and further 3D scrutiny found that the quids exhibited properties consistent with having been chewed.</p><p>Says co-author <a href="https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/bakermatthewdr/" target="_blank">Matthew Baker</a> of the University of Strathclyde, "The combination of chemistry and archaeology in this project has truly shown the power of a multidisciplinary approach to uncover new knowledge."</p><p>The Chumash people are known to have used <em>Datura</em> in adolescent rites of passage and for shamanic vision quests. The plant was considered part of the tribe's spiritual family, personified as an old woman named "Momoy." The plant is classified today as an <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entheogen" target="_blank">entheogen</a>, which are plants used for spiritual purposes.</p><p><em>Datura</em> was often ingested after being processed into liquid form, it was also chewed, as seen in the cave's quids. The Chumash knew how much <em>Datura</em> to ingest — it can be lethal when the dosage is too high.</p>
Bringing the past to the present<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0MzQ5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzg4NTI1MH0.0e6H1ImLOQvOlpO9MloBjvUDCC3jWfyk37voCQU64E0/img.jpg?width=980" id="1bc7e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="173dc2bfcfe6f12ee6c3e89bdfa29d97" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="456" />
Credit: Devlin Gandy/University of Central Lancashire<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The link between hallucinogens and rock art has long been suspected," says Robinson, "and this research shows that it was not only a source of creative inspiration for these prehistoric groups of people, but a core tenet of important rituals and community gathering."</p><p>He adds, "These findings give us a far more in-depth understanding of the lives of indigenous American communities and their relationships, from late prehistoric times right up until the late 1800s. Importantly, because of this research, the Tejon Indian tribe now visits the site annually to reconnect to this important ancestral place."</p><p>Co-author <a href="https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/about/staff/fcs22.page" target="_blank">Fraser Sturt</a> of the University of Southampton, lauds the partnerships that made the findings possible:</p><p>"The results of this project spring from a high interdisciplinary, open and collaborative approach to research. In this way, new and improved recording and analytical techniques have helped to reconnect material remains, art, narrative and people across space and time. Thus, while the focus is on the hallucinogenic properties of Datura and its role in rock art and community generation, this work also shows that it is one facet of a complex suite of relationships between people, place and the environment."</p>
In "The Immortality Key," Brian Muraresku speculates that the Eucharist could have once been more colorful.
The Connection Psychedelics Have to Early Christianity, Christmas<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="72275b24cf5d5ef9a42648bd565da0e0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XS5qjEXS6oM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Muraresku was drawn into this research due to the mystical concept of dying before dying, as expressed during the Mysteries of Eleusis. He uncovered parallel narratives while conducting research with God's librarian in the Vatican Secret Archives—a research trip few people ever have an opportunity to experience.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This is something preserved in St. Paul's monastery, for example: <em>if you die before you die, you won't die when you die</em>. That's the key. It's not psychedelics; it's not drugs. It's this concept of navigating the liminal space between what you and I are doing right now, and dreaming, and death. In that state, the mystics tell us, is the potential to grasp a very different view of reality."</p><p>Something funny happened on the way to the Archives, however. Muraresku, who has never taken a psychedelic drug, read about terminally-ill patients <a href="https://maps.org/news/multimedia-library/3012-how-psychedelic-drugs-can-help-patients-face-death" target="_blank">having a similar revelation</a> after ingesting psilocybin. "Dying before dying" succinctly describes what they felt; the overwhelming sensations prepared them to actually die with confidence and grace. Could this be the same experience discovered by initiates at Eleusis and, later, early Christians? </p><p>The key to immortality might be dying before dying, and psychedelics appear to be one method for unlocking this mystery. </p><p>Muraresku spends the bulk of 400 pages chasing down archaeological and scriptural evidence for spiked wine. The wine and wafer of today is a far cry from the <em>kukeon</em> of the ancient Greeks, drunk by pilgrims, who were given the title <em>epoptes</em>, "the one who has seen it all." That's a heavy ask for a grape. </p><p>But if you were to mix that grape with blue water lily (with its psychoactive compounds, apomorphine and nuciferin), henbane, lizards—ancestral food choices that put Brooklyn hipsters to shame—or ergot, the fungal disease that gives LSD its kick, you might just "see it all." As Muraresku points out, the Greek language is descriptively rich and extensive, yet these philosophers somehow never invented a word for "alcohol." Their chalices weren't for wine alone. </p>
The Telesterion at the Archaeological site of Eleusis ( or "Elefsis) or "Elefsina", Attica, Greece
Credit: Iraklis Milas / Adobe Stock<p>While he calls psychedelics "just one, perhaps very tiny piece" of early Christian rituals, it could be an essential one. Sadly, archaeochemistry isn't the most funded discipline, especially after asking the Vatican to hand over guarded relics in hopes of discovering trace amounts of psychedelics. And yet, even with those restrictions, Muraresku gains access to the Vatican Secret Archives and jet sets with a sympathetic Father Francis through the Louvre and Rome in search of potential connections in the literature and art.</p><p>There are plenty. While the gospel writers were busy writing what would become the world's most lasting bestseller, Dioscorides was penning his unforgettable recipe book, "Da meteria medica." The five-volume drug manual's influence lasted for 1,500 years before Renaissance botanists usurped his reign. Regardless, Dioscorides included cocktails spiked with plants, herbs, and toxins, some of which inspire a hallucinogenic—some would say religious—sentiment.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's no mistake that the Eucharist is described as the 'drug of immortality' by the early Church fathers because there was this sense of really sophisticated botanical understanding that goes all the way back to Homer. Obviously, it goes back a lot further, and so part of the reason I wrote the book is to show people that within Western civilization—at its roots, in fact—is this very pharmacopoeia. This tradition was certainly there, and it begs the question of how prevalent and widespread it really was."</p><p>Add to this already riveting tale the fact that the gatekeepers of Eleusis were women—a practice Christianity abandoned. Women were likely the distributors of the spiked beverages that helped initiates "see it all." Modern precedent exists, though not in American Christianity. The Western world was introduced to psilocybin after R Gordon Wasson sat in on a ceremony led by the <em>curandera</em> María Sabina. Likewise, ayahuasca is called "godmother" for a reason.</p><p>We live in a world that went from honoring goddesses to hunting witches, though we shouldn't glorify ancient Greece. The first democracy didn't allow women to vote and likely didn't let them partake in epic plays. Men performed as women in the Tragedies. Highborn women often become slaves in these plays, such as with Cassandra, Hecuba, and Tecmessa. Misogyny is ancient. While Greek city folk were jacked up on testosterone, Eleusis offered a different landscape. </p><p>Regardless, Christian leaders exiled women from both leadership and ritual. While in the Archives, Muraresku found evidence of at least 45,000 so-called witches being executed, with "countless more" tortured or imprisoned. The patriarchy initiated a pattern:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"[The leadership] wasn't just trying to rid Christianity of folk healers. It was trying to erase a system of knowledge that had survived for centuries in the shadows." </p>
Conspirituality interview with Brian Muraresku<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="667ddf5ba30218a0baefe066cf36c4f2"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0aogj-08AMo?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The knowledge was the pharmacological expertise these women had amassed over untold generations. The two banes of the Church—mind-altering substances that afford the initiate a mindset comparable (or, perhaps exactly akin) to prophets and sages and women, the holders of the Secrets—were swept up in one millennia-long cover-up. As Muraresku succinctly phrases it, "the Catholic Church started the War on Drugs." Perhaps the War on Women, too.</p><p>Perhaps they're two aspects of the same war. </p><p>Interestingly, this 12-year-long odyssey only deepened Muraresku's Catholicism, which is rooted in the Jesuit tradition. As he says, Christianity—a religion that was a cult for over 300 years before being catapulted onto the global stage—has always evolved. Could the Church possibly change again and offer the psychedelic sacrament that might lie at the heart of the religion? Is another Reformation possible? </p><p>As Muraresku concludes during our talk, each attempt to get back to the roots, beginning with Martin Luther and continuing right through to Pope Francis, is an analysis of the origins of the faith. To know your history is to understand where you're heading. Muraresku would like to see another step forward. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There was no monolithic Christianity. Just like today, you look around and see 33,000 denominations of Christianity—a few of which include psychedelics as their sacrament, such as the Santo Daime or the Native American Church, which has some Christian syncretism to it. The possibility of a psychedelic sacrament in antiquity is not laughable. In fact, it's quite plausible according to some of the literature and data that's just beginning to emerge on the scientific front. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"When I look and see Hellenic Christianity that was very much at the roots of the Catholic Church, and the more I found that Greek influence underneath the Vatican—in some cases, literally, in the catacombs—the more I began to really love and appreciate what this was all about. The more I read the Greek and the more evidence that I see, the more in love with Christianity I become. Now, it might not be some people's definition of Christianity today, but again, if you just step back and take a very honest look at the Greek of the New Testament and the Greek landscape in which it emerged, it's a really powerful statement."</p><p>--<br></p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
All the fun of opening up a mummy, without the fear of unleashing a plague.
- Three long dead Egyptians recently had their CT images taken.
- The scans revealed what was, and was not, done during their mummification.
- The finds shed more light on how the Egyptians were inspired by the Greeks and Romans.
They look pretty good for being 2000.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc3OTczOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MzQyMTA3OH0.DXEfaEIlP4i9cbSesikZJQENNsAXsz5w44da-qR_CPc/img.png?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C55%2C0%2C55&height=700" id="008a0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e52682068e52705d2252c8ca1be19c18" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
The decorated images showing who the mummies used to be.
Credit: Zesch et al., PLOS One, 2020<p> The three mummies scanned are the only known examples of "stucco-shrouded portrait mummies." As opposed to being buried in a coffin, these three were placed on wooden boards then wrapped in a textile and a shroud. They were then decorated with plaster, gold, and a whole-body portrait revealing what they looked like, how they styled their hair, and what they wore in life. All three were once buried in Saqqara, the great Necropolis just south of <a href="https://www.livescience.com/painted-ancient-egyptian-mummies-ct-scan.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Giza</a>. <br> <br> They date back to the Late Roman Period in Egypt, and all three of them have had very exciting afterlives filled with stories about their discoveries and shifting ownership. Now, thanks to modern technology, we can learn about their lives. <br> <br> The CT scan shows that the man was between 25 and 30 years of age when he died and that he had several cavities and unerupted teeth. He was only 164 cm tall (around 5'4"). Several of his bones are broken, though this is believed to be the result of careless handling by whoever discovered the remains.</p><p>Most curiously, there is no evidence that his brain was removed during the mummification process, as was standard in other cases. It also seems that few embalming chemicals were used to preserve him. This suggests that he was just wrapped, painted, and buried and that dehydration is what kept his corpse so well preserved. <br> <br> The woman was between 30 and 40 years old and stood at 151 cm (4'9"). She shows signs of arthritis in her knees. Like many other Egyptians, she was buried in fine jewelry. Several necklaces appeared on the scan, suggesting she was well off. For reasons unknown, nails were also found in her abdomen. Like her male counterpart, her brain was not removed during mummification, <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/archaeologists-finally-peer-inside-egyptian-mummies-first-found-in-1615" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">either</a>. <br> <br> The last mummy was that of a girl in her late teens. She showed signs of having a benign tumor on her back, and all of her internal organs were still intact. Her coffin contains hairpins, suggesting that she wore her hair up as depicted in her portrait. </p>