Tiwanaku is an important Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia. Tiwanaku is recognized by Andean scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire, flourishing as the ritual and administrative capital of a major state power for approximately four hundred years between 700 and 1100 A.D.
Chemical analysis of samples of archeological snuff powders from such kits has indicated the presence of bufotenine, dimethyltryptamine, and 5-MeO-DMT. The presence of bufotenine suggests that the source of the powder was any of several DMT-rich plants in the genus Anadenanthera; small pouches containing Anadenanthera seeds have also been found in several burials. CAT scans of Tiwanakuan skulls have shown signs of chronic perinasal damage in some cases, likely caused by frequent sniffing of Anadenanthera.
Psychoactive alkaloids accumulate in hair and other body tissues; so a test of hair samples would provide direct evidence for hallucinogen use among the Tiwanakuans. A recent paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science, entitled "Identification of psychoactive alkaloids in ancient Andean human hair by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry," reports an analysis of the chemical composition of hairs from 32 mummies from northern Chile, dating to the Tiwanakuan expansion, looking specifically for harmine and 5-MeO-DMT.
"We think that Banisteriopsis was not necessarily used as a hallucinogenic mixture, and perhaps was used in therapeutic practices. It is also possible that its consumption with snuffing kits was used as element of social differentiation," one of the authors said in an interview.
The investigation of hallucinogen use in antiquity has certainly taken a methodological step forward with this study. It is just not clear where that step has taken us.