JUN 13, 2019 9:32 AM PDT

Cannabis Use Dating Back to 500 B.C.

WRITTEN BY: C Reardon

Deep in the Pamir Mountains in western China, it appears that ancient communities, dating back as far as 500 B.C., may have used cannabis in mortuary rituals. Researchers have recently identified high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on residue left behind from these ancient burials. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the plant's most psychoactive compound.

Mark Merlin, a professor of botany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a cannabis historian, believes that the documentation of this type of residue in laboratory testing is a crucial finding, stating that cannabis, with its psychoactive properties, was most likely used as a connector between the human body form and the afterlife, or the spirit world.

Photo Source: New York Times

Beijing archeologists and chemists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences have uncovered roughly 70 artifacts from the burial site to date. Artifacts include beads, pieces of silk, wooden bowls, even bones with perforations that may suggest human sacrifice. 

The study, published in Science Advances, begins to paint the picture of these ancient rituals with rhythmic music, smoke, chanting, and hallucinogenic smoke used to guide people into an altered state of mind intentionally. 

Photo source: New York Times

Researchers wrote that the people taking part in these rituals placed hot stones in wooden braziers, then laid the cannabis on the hot stones. The residue has been found on ten braziers as well as stones taken from eight tombs in the Jirzankal Cemetery. 

Wild cannabis, typically with low levels of cannabinol, grows in the mountain foothills of Central Asia. With this in mind, one of the more perplexing questions researchers currently have is, both how and why did mourners in these ancient rituals seek out the most potent strains of cannabis. Researchers believe that it is possible that "people may have been cultivating cannabis" to have stronger strains to utilize in rituals, medicinally and in daily life even in 500 B.C.

About the Author
  • Chelsey is a content strategist and copywriter with a business degree. She has a background in public relations and marketing and enjoys writing about various topics, from health, to lifestyle, to women’s issues. Since 2016, she has written for a variety of online publications, earning well over 100,000 shares. She published her first book in 2019.
You May Also Like
JUL 22, 2020
Cancer
Investigating a New Target Against Esophageal Cancer
JUL 22, 2020
Investigating a New Target Against Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal cancer remains one of the most dangerous cancers in the world. Most therapies center around chemotherapy, rad ...
JUL 21, 2020
Immunology
Hormone Therapies Keep Urinary Tract Infections at Bay
JUL 21, 2020
Hormone Therapies Keep Urinary Tract Infections at Bay
More than half of all women will suffer from a urinary tract infection, or UTI, during their lifetimes. Women are consid ...
JUL 21, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Researchers ID New Aging Pathways & Potential Ways to Alter Them
JUL 21, 2020
Researchers ID New Aging Pathways & Potential Ways to Alter Them
The length of a person's life can be affected by many factors, but the natural lifespan is dependent on how the cells in ...
AUG 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Device Diagnoses Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes
AUG 06, 2020
Device Diagnoses Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes
Researchers have created a point-of-care device that can provide diagnostic results for breast cancer in under an hour. ...
AUG 06, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Fragile X Model Has a Very Specific Brain Abnormality
AUG 06, 2020
Fragile X Model Has a Very Specific Brain Abnormality
Cilia are like little antennae on cells, and most cells have one. If they're dysfunctional, it can cause serious problem ...
AUG 10, 2020
Cardiology
Can Statins be Used to Treat Strokes?
AUG 10, 2020
Can Statins be Used to Treat Strokes?
When a blood clot forms in an artery that supplies the brain with oxygen, obstructing it, a stroke can occur. Strokes ca ...
Loading Comments...