In its fifth-century history, the Greek historian Herodotus has already vaguely reported on the peoples in the border area between present-day China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan how people sat together and inhaled the smoke of the cannabis plant on special ritual occasions or even for pleasure. It was already clear that in the region, which was one of the most important trade routes in history, the Silk Road, the hemp plant had apparently been used not only for medical purposes, but as a popular intoxicant drug.
What was missing was archaeological evidence. And an answer to the question: was the hemp also grown and bred? Valuable evidence has now been provided by a research group of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Humanity in Jena together with scientists from two Chinese academies.
In a cemetery that was discovered years ago and carefully draped with structures of white and black stones in the eastern Pamir Mountains, the human remains were excavated at an altitude of three thousand meters. The terraced burial ground "Jirzankal" contained besides well-known ritual grave goods well a dozen well-preserved vessels made of juniper wood, some of which were filled with charred stones. Max Planck researcher Nicole Boivin and her Chinese colleagues have carefully analyzed the organic remains of the inside of the cup and the deposits on the stones.
Intoxicating smoke of burnt cannabis plants
As can be read in the journal "Science Advanves", showed the chemical analysis with the gas chromatograph: in these vessels, a lot of cannabis was burned. The breakdown product of the most important psychoactive substance, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was partly detectable in such high concentrations that, according to the archaeologists, only one conclusion is reached: Humans consumed the smoke of particular hemp plants two and a half thousand years ago. Such as they did not happen back then in the Near Eastern wilderness, where cannabis plants are still common today.
Obviously, the peoples had already bred cannabis for a higher THC content. For the assumption that the drug was actually already widespread at that time, also speaks the distribution in the graves. Everywhere one found the remains in the cups. The cannabis smoke was apparently inhaled during the funeral, regardless of the social status of the deceased. It is possible that marijuana smoking spread westwards from western China.
. (TagsToTranslate) Herodotus