2,000 Year Old Ganja Found In Tomb, Still Dank

Ancient Cannabis Discovered in Burial Site

The archeology world is ablaze with the latest findings. This week, the news about the discovery of cannabis on an ancient burial site in northwest China, rocked the marijuana world. The findings can change everything that we know about how the plant was used and consumed in ancient Asian cultures. It can add a great deal of valuable information on some of the older ways our ancestors used cannabis.

The findings of the discovery were published in Economic Botany. In the report, Hongen Jiang and the rest of the archeological team discuss the burial sites of a Caucasian 35-year old man in the Jiayi cemetery located at the Turpan Basin. The corpse of the man was lying down on a bed made of wood, while resting on a reed pillow. The mysterious part of the burial was that 13 cannabis plants around 3-feet long each were found on the man’s chest. The roots were placed by the man’s pelvis while the cannabis tops reached his face. The team used radiocarbon dating to identify the age of the tomb which indicated that the burial happened sometime between 2,400 to 2,800 years ago. This discovery in China contributes to a larger body of archeological evidence indicating that cannabis was a valuable plant in ancient years, and was consumed widely around Eurasia.   

The burial site is linked to the Subeixi culture which lived in the Turpan area sometime 3,000 to 2,000 years ago. During that time, Turpan was considered an important part of the Silk Road route. This isn’t the first time cannabis has been found in Turpan burial sites; one of the most recent discoveries occurred around a decade ago at the Yanghai cemetery where archaeologists stumbled on almost 2 pounds of cannabis seeds as well as powdered leaves. However this finding is still significant because it’s the first time in history that archaeologists discovered whole cannabis plants.

Somewhere to the West of Turpan, cannabis seeds were also found during the first millennium BC. In Scynthian burial sites in south Siberia, archaeologists discovered the corpse of a woman who was suspected to have died from breast cancer and she might have been using the cannabis to help relieve her of her symptoms.

The previous cannabis finds throughout Turpan burial sites were only usually just parts of the plant, so researchers still can’t confirm where the plant was grown. The cannabis could have either been grown or cultivated locally, or the locals could have gotten it through trade with nearby countries.  But since the recent find of a whole cannabis plant on the corpse, archaeologists now conclude that the cannabis was indeed fresh and local when it was used.

Why Was Cannabis Used?

When archaeologists discover cannabis in ancient burial sites they are often perplexed by the reason for its presence. Cannabis has been used for many purposes throughout history across different cultures. It has been used by societies around the world for its durable hemp fibers, psychoactive properties, medicinal benefits, sexual benefits, and many more. But so far, there have been no hemp discoveries in any of the burial sites in Turpan. On the other hand, the seeds found in the burial were too small to actually have been eaten or to have served any nutritional benefits. Since the cannabis plant found at the Jiayi site featured flowering heads with hairs that contained the psychoactive compound THC, it’s suspected that the smoke might have been inhaled as part of the burial for medicinal or ritual purposes.

 

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