Archaeologists in northwest China have come upon an “extraordinary cache” of ancient weed in a burial site. Evidence points to the ancient people of the Turpan Basin using cannabis for a variety of purposes: spiritual, medicine, and (most importantly, it seems) to get lifted.
Researchers in the area are finding fossils of super heady buds. Fossils of female plants discovered show they were covered with “glandular trichomes,” as National Geographic put it. That means these flowers were hairy, maybe even crystallized. And the researchers don’t think that’s an accident either. They’ve ruled out the plants as being used for hemp (there’s no evidence of hemp textiles in any discovered burial sites) and the seeds of the plants are too small to use for a source of nutrition.
So, their best guess is that these strains were specifically cultivated to be as psychoactive as possible, then consumed as either an incense or an infused beverage.
While they buried these fire nugs with their dead, they didn’t entirely go to waste. Nat Geo reported that “while nearly all of the flowering heads of the 13 female plants had been cut off before they were placed on the body, a few that remained were nearly ripe and contained some immature fruit.” That means that they buried the plant and some of the actual cannabis flower, but mostly the residents of the Turpan Basin kept their goodies for themselves.
Other ancient uses of marijuana
While our focus of this find has been the pretty heavy revelation that the ancient ones knew how to breed marijuana for its stone, as long ago as 2,400-2,800 years in the past, National Geographic and archaeologist Hongen Jiang (in a report printed in the journal Economic Botany) found other revelations.
Like for instance, their possible use of cannabis to treat symptoms of breast cancer. And also their burial of as many as 13 whole cannabis plants being buried with the dead and placed “diagonally across the man’s chest, with the roots oriented beneath his pelvis and the tops of the plants extending from just under his chin” as per Nat Geo.
The widespread use of cannabis in ancient Eurasia, from burials to nutrition to hemp textiles to just getting ripped up, shows how central to their culture marijuana was.
Photo via Flickr user Conor Lawless