Abstract

The fossil pollen contents found in the charred dottle residue from 20 clay pipe bowls recovered from a cesspit at a house in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (which was owned and used by the artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn), were collected and studied. The clay pipes date from approximately the same period when Rembrandt lived in the house and used the cesspit. We believe that some of the pollen in the dottle residue may have come from the tobacco, some possibly from airborne sources at Rembrandt's house and/or from debris in the cesspit in which the pipes were discarded. The results are compared with a similar study of pipe dottle from Native American clay pipes conducted more than 25 years ago. We also briefly review the origin and spread of domestic tobacco in an effort to determine potential sources of the tobacco imported and used in the Netherlands during the lifetime of Rembrandt and the period when he occupied the house. The pollen content of modern brands of commercial pipe tobacco is studied and the potential for using pollen found in tobacco products as evidence in forensic circumstances is reviewed.

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