Cannabis Usage In Ancient Times

ProfessorF

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Researchers find oldest-ever stash of marijuana
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008 | 8:53 AM ET Comments53Recommend51
The Canadian Press
Researchers say they have located the world's oldest stash of marijuana, in a tomb in a remote part of China.

The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly "cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.

The extremely dry conditions and alkaline soil acted as preservatives, allowing a team of scientists to carefully analyze the stash, which still looked green though it had lost its distinctive odour.

"To our knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent," says the newly published paper, whose lead author was American neurologist Dr. Ethan B. Russo.

Remnants of cannabis have been found in ancient Egypt and other sites, and the substance has been referred to by authors such as the Greek historian Herodotus. But the tomb stash is the oldest so far that could be thoroughly tested for its properties.

The 18 researchers, most of them based in China, subjected the cannabis to a battery of tests, including carbon dating and genetic analysis. Scientists also tried to germinate 100 of the seeds found in the cache, without success.

'Unequivocally cannabis,' say researchers

The marijuana was found to have a relatively high content of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, but the sample was too old to determine a precise percentage.

Researchers also could not determine whether the cannabis was smoked or ingested, as there were no pipes or other clues in the tomb of the shaman, who was about 45 years old.

The large cache was contained in a leather basket and in a wooden bowl, and was likely meant to be used by the shaman in the afterlife.

"This materially is unequivocally cannabis, and no material has previously had this degree of analysis possible," Russo said in an interview from Missoula, Mont.

"It was common practice in burials to provide materials needed for the afterlife. No hemp or seeds were provided for fabric or food. Rather, cannabis as medicine or for visionary purposes was supplied."

The tomb also contained bridles, archery equipment and a harp, confirming the man's high social standing.

Russo is a full-time consultant with GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine approved in Canada for pain linked to multiple sclerosis and cancer.

Cannabis has roots in China

The company operates a cannabis-testing laboratory at a secret location in southern England to monitor crop quality for producing Sativex, and allowed Russo use of the facility for tests on 11 grams of the tomb cannabis.

Researchers needed about 10 months to cut red tape barring the transfer of the cannabis to England from China, Russo said.

The inter-disciplinary study was published this week by the British-based botany journal, which uses independent reviewers to ensure the accuracy and objectivity of all submitted papers.

The substance has been found in two of the 500 Gushi tombs excavated so far in northwestern China, indicating that cannabis was either restricted for use by a few individuals or was administered as a medicine to others through shamans, Russo said.

"It certainly does indicate that cannabis has been used by man for a variety of purposes for thousands of years." Russo, who had a neurology practice for 20 years, has previously published studies examining the history of cannabis.

"I hope we can avoid some of the political liabilities of the issue," he said, referring to his latest paper.

The region of China where the tomb is located, Xinjiang, is considered an original source of many cannabis strains worldwide.
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EnolaGaia

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This recent discovery - also from China - is claimed to represent direct evidence of the earliest known cannabis smoking (ca. 2,500 years BP).
Signs of ritual pot smoking found in ancient Chinese graves

... Archaeologists have unearthed the earliest direct evidence of people smoking marijuana from a 2,500-year-old graveyard in western China.

In a complex of lofty tombs in the Pamir Mountains — a region near the borders of modern China, Pakistan and Tajikistan — excavators found 10 wooden bowls and several stones containing burnt residue of the cannabis plant. Scientists believe heated stones were used to burn the marijuana and people then inhaled the smoke as part of a burial ritual.

“It’s the earliest strong evidence of people getting high” on marijuana, said Mark Merlin, a botanist at the University of Hawaii. ...

The history of ancient drug use has long intrigued scholars. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote of people in Central Asia smoking cannabis around 440 B.C. In the past century, archaeologists have found cannabis seeds and plants buried in tombs across Central Asia’s highlands, including in southern Siberia, and elsewhere in western China’s Xinjiang region. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.apnews.com/58838bed92544a40a5ff9e20f3768498
 

feinman

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The Scythians were major potheads, being buried with braziers for buds and poles for smoke tents. Yhey must be nearly as old as the Chinese finds. Herodotus mentions the Scythian "smoke baths"
 

Kingsize Wombat

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The Ancient Pots That Hint at Cannabis’s Early Use as a Drug
Incense burners recently unearthed in western China provide new evidence of marijuana’s ritual role, once known only from historic texts.

Marijuana can linger in the human system for a few months at most, but cannabis residue will stick to other surfaces for millennia. High up in the Pamir Mountains, in what is now western China, archaeologists were excavating the tombs of Jirzankal Cemetery when they came upon a set of braziers and asked themselves what purpose the tools served. After analyzing the residue, a team of researchers found that it not only came from cannabis, but contained unusually high levels of THC—the compound that gives cannabis its psychoactive, or mind-altering, qualities.

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence pointing to the use of psychoactive cannabis in ancient Central Asia is purely textual: a section in Herodotus’s Histories about the Scythians, who, after funerals, would “throw the seed … upon the red-hot stones” and “shout for joy” as the vapor rose. But archaeological evidence has been harder to come by.

The team identified the chemical traces clinging to the burners using a technique that articulates a sample’s chemical signature. By vaporizing the sample, separating its components, and recording their differences in mass, researchers can identify the relative levels of the chemicals they’re looking at. “To our excitement, we identified the biomarkers of cannabis,” says Yimin Yang, another co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. And not just cannabis, but a strain bursting with CBN, the compound that forms after THC metabolizes. (These Jirzankal Cemetery samples contained, however, noticeably low levels of CBD—a medicinal, nonpsychoactive compound favored by some cannabis users.) Higher than what are typically found in regional, wild cannabis plants, the CBN levels suggest that the ancient grave keepers deliberately sought out these mind-altering varieties, and potentially even domesticated them.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science...nese-artifact-has-traces-cannabis-use/591538/
 

feinman

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The German scientist who tested the "cocaine mummies" found marijuana in the hair and lung tissue of the mummies, too, iirc.
 
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