Coca leaves first chewed 8,000 years ago, says research

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Peruvian foraging societies were already chewing coca leaves 8,000 years ago, archaeological evidence has shown.

Ruins beneath house floors in the northwestern Peru showed evidence of chewed coca and calcium-rich rocks.

Such rocks would have been burned to create lime, chewed with coca to release more of its active chemicals.

Writing in the journal Antiquity, an international team said the discovery pushed back the first known coca use by at least 3,000 years.

Coca leaves contain a range of chemical compounds known as alkaloids. In modern times, the most notable among them is cocaine, extracted and purified by complex chemical means.

But the chewing of coca leaves for medicinal purposes has long been known to be a pastime at least as old as the Inca civilisation....

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