Ancient Humans In China Were Smoking Marijuana 2,500 Years Ago, Study Finds

Clay Curtis
June 15, 2019

Humans have been smoking, eating, and wearing cannabis for millennia, and a new study out Wednesday presents some pretty strong evidence of people using it explicitly to get high back in the first century BCE in Central Asia. This had made it impossible for other researchers to determine when humans first started cultivating these plants for their mind-altering properties.

Hashish, one in every of the most widely historical psychoactive capsules on this planet at the fresh time, became in the initiating historical in veteran East Asia as an oil seed slit and in making hemp textiles and rope.

"Our study", he continued, "implies that knowledge of cannabis smoking and specific high-chemical-producing varieties of the cannabis plant were among the cultural traditions that spread along these exchange routes".

Many historians had placed the origins of cannabis smoking on the ancient Central Asian steppes, but these arguments relied exclusively on a passage from a single text from the late first millennium BC, written by the Greek historian Herodotus. Still, he points out that the research expands the range of sites linked with early cannabis use.

During a dig of eight tombs at the Jirzankal Cemetery on the Pamir Plateau in western China, archaeologists exhumed 10 wooden braziers which contained soot-covered stones. Specifically the Pamir Mountains in now Tajikistan. All but one showed evidence of cannabinol, a by-product of the burning of...

It corroborates other early evidence for cannabis from burials further north, in the Xinjiang region of China and in the Altai Mountains of Russian Federation.

In an interview with Wired, co-author and director of the Paleoethnobotany Laboratories at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Robert Spengler said, "So it's a plausible argument that there could have been human sacrifice attached to this whole ritual activity".

There's no clear evidence of smoking pipes existing in Central Asia before the modern era, instead people would either eat the plant or inhale the smoke or vapours when it was burnt.

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"Some of the artifacts are from Central Asia and some from Central China", he said.

Further work at the site has shown that some of the people buried there were not local to the area. The findings, published this week in the journal Science Advances, suggest settlements in Central Asia played an important role in the development of Eurasian trade.

The researchers can't say for certain whether the cannabis being burnt was a cultivated variety, or was being selected from wild populations that had naturally higher levels of THC.

The plants produced psychoactive compounds, another term for what we call the feeling of being "high".

Moreover, they indicated a higher level of THC than is normally found in wild marijuana.

The ancient cannabis was most likely used during rituals to commemorate the dead at funerals. The entrances to individual tombs at the burial site are marked by mounds surrounded by stone circles. There is also evidence that the plants did produce psychoactive compounds. 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. Dr. Yang has studied ancient organic residues in East Asia for over ten years. He notes that "biomarker analyses open a unique window onto details of ancient plant exploitation and cultural communication that other archaeological methods can not offer".

However, it has been hard to pinpoint an exact period that cannabis was first used.

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