Earliest evidence for cannabis use discovered in ancient tombs

People Smoked Pot to Get High at Least 2,500 Years Ago

People Smoked Pot to Get High at Least 2,500 Years Ago

Wooden braziers and a skeleton found in the tomb M12 as they were exposed in the excavations at an archaeological site in western China that provided evidence for the burning of cannabis at a cemetery locale roughly 2,500 years ago, is shown in this image from the Pamir Mountains in Xinjiang region, released from Beijing, China, on June 12, 2019.

Instead, the ancient tribes, obviously, put hemp in wooden vessels and heated them red-hot stones in order to smoke. Given the lack of other cannabis breakdown products, the scientists believe the plants were selected to be high in THC, but whether they were cultivated or found in the wild is unclear.

Little is known about the origins of cannabis smoking, but its use at the cemetery resonates with Herodotus's written account from the 5th century BC.

"The findings support the idea that cannabis plants were first used for their psychoactive compounds in the mountainous regions of eastern Central Asia; thereafter spreading to other regions of the world", said Nicole Boivun, director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

This according to the abstract of a new research article called 'The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs.' According to the article, ten wooden braziers were exhumed from tombs in the 2500-year-old Jirzankal Cemetery on the Pamir Plateau in China.

"The methods are convincing, and the data are unambiguous regarding early use of cannabis as a psychoactive substance", Tengwen Long of the University of Nottingham who was not involved with the study tells Science.

The researchers historical a approach called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to title natural enviornment matter preserved in the braziers, detecting marijuana's chemical signature.

To the worldwide team's surprise, these were an exact match to the chemical signature of cannabis.

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The report says that the latest findings corroborate other early evidence for cannabis from burials further north, in the Xinjiang region of China and in the Altai Mountains of Russian Federation. If the level of THC is high, then cannabis can be used as a recreational drug. It is the first evidence of the recreational use of marijuana.

The cemetery site is situated near the ancient Silk Road, indicating that the old trade route linking China and the Middle East may have facilitated the spread of marijuana use as a drug.

Dr Spengler, the lead archaeobotanist on the study, said: "The exchange routes of the early Silk Road functioned more like the spokes of a wagon wheel than a long-distance road, placing Central Asia at the heart of the ancient world".

Regardless of the type these people had used, evidence suggests that smoking pot had its place in commemorating their dead.

The main difference is that they would most likely have smoked up during ritual and religious activities. It was discovered by eggheads from Germany's Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The entrances to individual tombs at the burial site are marked by mounds surrounded by stone circles.

This discovery opens a door into the importance of residue analyses, and how they can help us understand cultural communication from the past.

Researchers didn't set out to study early cannabis use.

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