The detection of nicotine in a Late Mayan period flask by gas chromatography and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry methods
Article first published online: 12 JAN 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 403–411, 29 February 2012
How to Cite
Zagorevski, D. V. and Loughmiller-Newman, J. A. (2012), The detection of nicotine in a Late Mayan period flask by gas chromatography and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry methods. Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom., 26: 403–411. doi: 10.1002/rcm.5339
- Issue published online: 12 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 12 JAN 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 14 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Received: 7 SEP 2011
Several ancient Mayan vessels from the Kislak Collection of the US Library of Congress were examined for the presence of alkaloids. One of them, a codex-style flask, bears a text that appears to read yo-'OTOT-ti 'u-MAY, spelling y-otoot 'u-may 'the home of its/his/her tobacco'. Samples extracted from this Late Classic period (600 to 900 AD) container were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) methods. Nicotine was identified as the major component of the extracts. LC/MS analyses also yielded signals due to nicotine mono-oxides. The identities of the compounds were determined by comparison of the chromatographic and/or mass spectral characteristics with those from standards and literature data. High-resolution high mass accuracy tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) spectra of protonated nicotine and nicotine mono-oxides were measured to verify and to correct previous product ion assignments. These analyses provided positive evidence for nicotine from a Mayan vessel, indicating it as a likely holder of tobacco leafs. The result of this investigation is the first physical evidence of tobacco from a Mayan container, and only the second example where the vessel content recorded in a Mayan hieroglyphic text has been confirmed directly by chromatography/mass spectrometry trace analysis. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.