Archaeology Talk: Drs. Shannon Tushingham and David Gang

Archaeology Talk


When: Thursday, March 31, 2016

Time: 11:30 — 1:00 pm

Where: Anthropology and Sociology Building (AnSo) 1305


Drs. Shannon Tushingham and David Gang

Washington State University


Human Use of Psychoactive Plants in Ancient North America: Experimental Method Development and Applications of Metabolomics Research in Archaeological Residue Analysis



Contact period peoples throughout the Americas widely used plants with stimulant or hallucinogenic properties (e.g.,tobacco, coffee, cacao, cassina,

datura) for medicinal, ceremonial or recreational purposes, yet surprisingly little is known about their use in the past. Liquid Chromatography-Mass

Spectrometry(LC-MS) and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis offers a direct means to trackancient use of such plants by identifying alkaloid and other compound residues in ancient artifacts. In this presentation we will summarize our current National Science Foundation sponsored research, which involves method development, renement of residue extraction and analysis techniques, and the application of metabolomics approaches, through an innovative interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropologists and biological chemists. Studies include work on smoke plants (in ancient pipes) and medicinal teas (in shell and pottery vessels) through identication of plant biomarkers, experimentation(smoking plants in experimental pipes, brewing medicinal beverages), and residue extraction from ancient specimens. Recent discoveries are discussed, as well as new research on pipes from B.C. in a study developed in collaboration with R.G. Matson, the UBC LOA, and First Nations communities.



Shannon Tushingham is Assistant Director of the Museum of Anthropology and Director of the Tushingham Ancient Residue Laboratory at Washington State University.

David R. Gang is a Professor in the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University, where he is also the Co-Director of the Murdock Metabolomics Lab and the Director of the Tissue Imaging and Proteomics Laboratory.