People in western China smoked marijuana to bury their dead 2.500 years ago. The oldest evidence of weed smoking in human history. It appears people have been smoking weed for more than two millennia. This clue, and others like it from the past, indicate that the burials had a ritual quality to them. Moreover, smoking marijuana played a role in commemorating the dead.
Researchers reported that they’ve found ritual marijuana smoking in China’s archaeological record.
The evidence comes from stone-filled braziers. It is a device that people fill the air with its vapors. Furthermore, that was in eight tombs at the Jirzankal Cemetery in the Pamir Mountains of western China.
Braziers with traces of cannabinol, the compound that forms after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) comes in contact with the air. THC is the most potent psychoactive agent in marijuana.
The authors published their findings in the journal Scientific Advances. The chemical signature of THC residue in the tomb indicates that people in this region smoked marijuana during burial ceremonies. Perhaps as a way to communicate with the dead. It’s the earliest strong evidence of people getting high” on marijuana.
This marijuana was potent
Marijuana is one of the most psychoactive drugs in the world today. However, the legacy of its use and cultivation spans millennia. The earliest known cultivation of cannabis occurred in Eurasia roughly 6,000 years ago. People used it as a food crop and for hemp material.
Previous evidence of ancient cannabis smoking came mostly from historical anecdotes. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about ritual and recreational pot use around the same time.
They also found cannabis in a different Chinese tomb
Usually, wild cannabis has lower levels of THC than its cultivated counterparts. The residue in these Chinese braziers indicates that the type of cannabis in them had higher THC levels. It also had higher amounts of THC than cannabis in ancient Eurasia.
The authors aren’t sure whether the use of cannabis in this region was intentionally cultivated. However, they know that people who conducted this burial had some other way of seeking out more potent plants.
They appeared to be aware that not all cannabis was equal when it comes to its psychoactive qualities.
The tombs had evidence of human sacrifice
In the Jirzankal Cemetery, the archaeologists found skulls and other bones with signs of fatal cuts and breaks. Also, they found a harp as well. It is an important musical instrument in ancient funerals and sacrificial ceremonies.
These clues from the past indicate that the burials had a ritual quality to them. Furthermore, smoking marijuana played a role in commemorating the dead.
“We can start to piece together an image of funerary rites that included flames, rhythmic music, and hallucinogen smoke. All intended to guide people into an altered state of mind,” the study authors wrote.
Merlin told The Atlantic that this discovery does not suggest ancient Chinese people were into recreational drug use. Instead, he said, it was likely a spiritual practice. Part of ushering the dead into the afterlife and helping the living commune with deities or the deceased.
(Featured Image by enriquelopezgarre)
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