Cannabis has been important to humans for thousands of years, and now we may have evidence of just how prevalent cannabis was for rituals and ceremonies.
National Geographic reported last week that preserved cannabis plants were found at a burial site that dates back nearly 2,500 years ago. Archaeologist Hongen Jiang describe the burial site of a 35 year old male in the journal Economic Botany. Thirteen cannabis plants, each roughly three feet in length, were placed across the man’s chest in a way that suggests a culture in which cannabis was revered for spiritual and medical utility.
The burial site is located in China’s Turpan Basin, a desert oasis located along the famed Silk Road. Several other sites in the Turpan region have revealed cannabis plants, but this is the first time archaeologists have recovered complete specimens being used as a burial shroud.
Botanical evidence suggests that the cannabis from the burial site was grown locally, and was cut and harvested shortly before the burial. Researchers believe that cannabis in the region was grown for psychoactive properties, as little evidence of textile or nutritional use has been uncovered.
Carbon dating helps modern scientists uncover secrets about ancient rituals and customs. The discovery of complete cannabis plants at the Turpan cemetery is a wonderful find for better understanding the ancient uses and appreciations of cannabis.
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