Archaeologists Discovered That Ancient Iberians Used To Ingest A Toxic, Bright Red Mercury Powder 5,000 Years Ago, Presumably For Its Magical Properties

ali - - illustrative purposes only

Archaeologists have found that people living in the Iberian Peninsula used to ingest mercury powder around 5,000 years ago.

The levels of mercury they found in the bones of the ancient people were extremely high, greatly surpassing modern health standards.

Between about 2900 and 2650 B.C.E., groups of women adorned in ceremonial gowns and hand-crafted jewelry would perform a ritual dance before a crowd at a Copper Age settlement called Valencina.

Then, they would inhale a bright red powder that altered their minds or drink it once it was mixed into an elixir, presumably for its magical properties.

The powder was ground from a mineral called cinnabar. The substance induced a feverish, trance-like state accompanied by tremors and delirium.

Its users may have believed they could connect with deities and predict the future of their society. However, they were unaware that the effects they experienced were caused by the toxic metal mercury.

As the tradition was practiced over the years, the poison accumulated in their bodies. Thousands of years later, archaeologists detected significantly high levels of mercury in the women’s bones, along with other members of the community.

While the women ingested the cinnabar on purpose, the other community members seemed to have consumed it unintentionally, either from working directly with the substance or from contaminants in the environment.

Today, mercury is one of the most widely banned chemicals by public health authorities across the globe.

ali – – illustrative purposes only

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