A new science paper details archaeological evidence of ritual inhalation of cannabis fumes at a burial site in the highlands of western China.
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Evidence of this practice comes from Jirzankal Cemetery in Central Asia’s Pamir Mountains, says a team led by archaeologist Yimin Yang of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Chemical residues on wooden burners unearthed in tombs there provide some of the oldest evidence to date of smoking or inhaling cannabis fumes, the researchers report online June 12 in Science Advances. Rituals aimed at communicating with the dead or a spirit world likely included cannabis smoking, the team speculates.
The find is significant because, while marijuana has been cultivated for at least 6,000 years, the early versions did not contain much THC and were used for fiber and oil. Exactly when the plant began to be cultivated for higher mind-altering content is unknown, but now we have a marker for that timeline. And the location of the dig is a crossroad for the Silk Road. Read more about the find at Science News.
(Image credit: X. Wu/Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)