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Wrong Douglas Sharon?

Dr. Douglas Sharon

Vice President

University of California Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

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University of California Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

Background Information

Employment History

Research Associate



The Hearst Corporation


Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology


Museum of Anthropology




Museum of Man


ASMD Gallery




UC Berkeley




Web References (104 Total References)

Past Officers [cached]

Doug Sharon - University of California Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley CA



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$reference.text - The Official Website of Explorer Josh Bernstein [cached]

Dr. Douglas Sharon, Director, P.A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

The Ethnographic Collections | Museum of Man [cached]

Ecuadorian Collection, Central Andes (Cacha): Former Curator Grace Johnson and former Director Douglas Sharon collected 145 items.

Douglas Sharon collected ethnographic items in Peru from 1989 to 2003.

The Mystery of Ulluchu | Singing to the Plants [cached]

Ethnobotanist Rainer Bussmann and anthropologist Douglas Sharon - whose work I have discussed here - have long been interested in identifying ulluchu. For years they consulted local curanderos and sellers of medicinal plants. "We would go to these markets," Sharon has said, "and people would say, 'We think we know what that is, but it's not being sold here.'" The curanderos claimed to have heard of a plant called ulluchu, perhaps because of its coinage by Larco; but they did not use it, they could not describe it, and the term had no place in their language. "For the last seventy years people have been trying to identify this fruit but couldn't," Bussmann says. "And when our work started, I thought to myself, This is not going to be simple."

Now, in an article in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Bussmann and Sharon have identified ulluchu, not as a pepper, but rather as a group of species in the genus Guarea, which is in the Meliaceae or mahogany family.
"Rainer is a first-rate taxonomist," Sharon says. "He studied every physical characteristic of these plants until he was absolutely certain we had it. When Bussmann compared specimens of Guarea to drawings of the ulluchu that had been unearthed a decade earlier, he knew he had found the plant.
While the existing literature on Guarea seed compounds is fragmentary, Bussmann and Sharon believe that a concentrated dosage of ulluchu seeds, if ingested, would increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and widen blood vessels. This would make it easier to extract sacrificial blood - and cause those surprising erections.
Priest costumed as a bird drinking a goblet of blood, with ulluchu in a basin, and perhaps holding a snuff tube
Bussmann and Sharon also suspect that a ground preparation of Guarea seeds, when inhaled, may have been used as a hallucinogen. One ceramic figurine shows a seated male with ulluchu plants on his headdress holding a gourd and pestle, possibly containing ground ulluchu seeds, with his nostrils flared, as is often seen in people inhaling hallucinogenic snuffs. Similarly, a fineline painting shows a winged runner or flying priest with ulluchu on his belt, ulluchu seeds floating above his head, and an instrument in his hand that closely resembles a typical double snuff tube of the sort used to inhale powdered hallucinogens.

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