Beer and Drugs Empowered Ancient Andean Empire

The Wari Empire ruled the South American highlands for centuries with help from hallucinogenic parties, new evidence suggests.
By George Dvorsky,f_auto,g_center,pg_1,q_60,w_1315/f3e8305934b576d4ae3ef11cf303459e.jpg
A depiction of the Wari Staff God, with tree branches and seed pods sprouting from the head, as depicted in a Wari vessel. Image: J. Ochatoma Paravicino/M. E. Biwer et al., 2022/Antiquity

Archaeological evidence from Peru suggests elite members of the Wari Empire mixed a hallucinogenic drug with a beer-like beverage in order to cultivate and preserve political control.

During feasts, Wari elites added vilca, a powerful hallucinogen, to chicha, a beer-like beverage made from fruit. Together, the concoction made for a potent party drug, which the researchers say helped those in power bond with their guests and consolidate relationships. And because vilca could only be produced by the elites, these psychedelic feasts served to boost their social and political importance. Such are the findings of a new study published today in Antiquity. (

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