Scientists from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered an antediluvian marijuana stash in an ancient tomb located in the Jiayi cemetery of Turpan, in the east of Xinjiang, China.
A group of researchers led by Hongen Jiang published their results in the journal Economic Botany. According to the archeologists, the marijuana stash is over 2,000 years old. The stash contained 13 whole cannabis plants that were mostly intact. Since the plants were positioned like a burial shroud and placed upon a male corpse, scientists concluded that cannabis was used for ceremonial purposes. Some occult hand arranged the plants diagonally across the man’s body, in such a way that one end of the plant was under the skeleton’s pelvis and the other pointed at where the man's face once was. This discovery adds to the growing body of evidence that ancient people used marijuana for its psychoactive properties in their rituals.
Radiometric dating shows that the tomb is between 2,400 and 2,800 years old. Scientists believe that 13 marijuana plants found in the tomb were grown locally, as evidenced by less well-preserved remains of cannabis plants found at the same cemetery. Previously, cannabis plants were found in similar locations in the Altai Mountains region; archeologists believe that the local Central Eurasian people widely used marijuana for medicinal and ritual purposes in the first millennium before Common Era.
While there are many valuable ways to use cannabis plants including making fabrics, ropes, and oil, researchers seem sure that the plants found in Turpan were used for their psychoactive properties—no hemp-based fabrics were found in the vicinity of the Jiayi cemetery, and the seeds were too small to be practically used as food. After examining the plants, scientists discovered that they were flowering and covered with trichomes. And trichomes, as we all are well aware of, are the part of the cannabis plant that secrete THC.
Archeologists speculate that local people grew cannabis for its resin, which they then burned and inhaled or possibly added to some kind of beverage.