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Ritual Smoking: Evidence from Archaeological Smoking Pipes

Author(s): Linda Scott Cummings ; R. A. Varney ; Peter Kovacik

Year: 2017

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Answering the question of what was smoked in prehistoric pipes benefits from a multi-proxy approach. Partially charred residue (dottle) provides more answers than does the black carbon that often lines the interior of archaeological pipes. Pipes examined from the American Southwest and Great Basin attest to use of a variety of plants, sometimes including ground maize, as smoking mixtures. Remains within the partially burned dottle are identified by pollen, phytolith, starch, macrofloral, and anthracological studies and also chemical (FTIR) signatures, then are compared with historic documents that indicate use of specific mixtures of plants in smoking pipes. Mixtures are documented to have included soft- and hardwood charcoal, conifer needles and lignin, tobacco, grass seeds, and/or maize (pollen or starch). The archaeological record suggests differences across cultural groups and through time.

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Cite this Record

Ritual Smoking: Evidence from Archaeological Smoking Pipes. Linda Scott Cummings, R. A. Varney, Peter Kovacik. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430036)


Pipes Ritual Smoking

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15085

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America