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J Ethnopharmacol. 1981 Jan;3(1):39-83.

Transcultural use of narcotic water lilies in ancient Egyptian and Maya drug ritual.


Comparisons are made between ancient ritual uses of the flowers of Nymphaea (Nymphaeaceae) in Maya and Egyptian civilizations. Recurrent motifs encountered in the art of both of these ancient civilizations suggests that the role fo the water lily was that of a narcotic (psychodysleptic) used to mediate ecstasis among a priestly caste. Relevant literature is reviewed as are chemical data. Elements in the complex belief systems of these two civilizations need to be reinterpreted in view of the use of two water lilies as ritual narcotics. The species implicated are Nymphaea caerulea Sav., in Egypt, and N. ampla DC., among the Maya.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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