GC-MS Analysis of Residues Reveals Nicotine in Two Late Prehistoric Pipes from CA-ALA-554
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Three pipes were recovered during excavations at CA-ALA-554. Ethnographically, Native Californians smoked a range of plants, the most common of which is tobacco, in pipes. In order to determine the specific uses of these pipes, we extracted organic residues from the pipes and identified compounds using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. Results show that the pipes have strong nicotine signatures, indicating they were used to smoke tobacco. Biomarkers for other plants are not present. Although tobacco use was introduced to California in ancient times, the precise date is unknown. The presence of nicotine in these pipes has implications for the timing of when tobacco entered California, and for indigenous horticultural practices.