Burnt wood incense burners unearthed at an ancient burial ground in the mountains of western China include the oldest clear evidence of marijuana smoking yet discovered, archaeologists say. Residues of high potency cannabis discovered in the burners, and on charred pebbles put inside them, recommend that funeral rites at the 2,500-year-old Jirzankal cemetery in the Pamir mountains may have been rather hazy affairs.
Scientists believe the stones were warmed in a fire before being moved to the wooden braziers and covered with marijuana, which appropriately rippled psychoactive smoke. With music as an accompaniment, the heady fumes may have prompted those present to attempt to communicate nature, spirits or the dead.
Scientists have discovered residues of cannabis at ancient sites in Central Asia before, but the latest discovery indicate the intentional usage of plants with high levels of the active compound, THC, and to marijuana being breathed in instead of consumed.
” There has actually been a longstanding debate over the origins of cannabis smoking, there are many speculative claims of ancient usage,” stated Robert Spengler at limit Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. “This study offers the earliest unambiguous evidence for both elevated chemical production in the plant and also for the burning of the plant as a drug.”
The discovery came about when Chinese archaeologists ran tests on 10 wooden braziers they excavated at the Jirzankal cemetery. They believed the burners had a ritual function at the site and hoped the analyses would provide some responses.
burial places throughout excavations. Photograph: Xinhua Wu The researchers scraped material off the burners and four of the charred
stones and analysed the pieces with a procedure called gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The sensitive strategy can detect small quantities of chemical residues. “To our enjoyment we recognized the biomarkers of marijuana, notably chemicals associated with the psychedelic properties of the plant, “said Yimin Yang at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Specifically, the scientists discovered cannabinol, a substance produced when THC is oxidised. Given the absence of other cannabis breakdown products, the researchers think the plants were chosen to be high in THC, but whether they were cultivated or found in the wild is uncertain. Together with the wooden burners and
blackened stones, archaeologists excavated wood plates and bowls, glass beads, pieces of silk and a Chinese harp, an instrument that frequently included in ancient funerals and sacrificial events. The skeletons of individuals buried at the site have not been analyzed in information, however some have holes in their skulls and what seem fatal cuts and breaks to their bones, raising the possibility that a minimum of a few of the dead were sacrificed.” Nearly all the braziers include
the biomarkers of marijuana and one brazier is severely burned, suggesting that the braziers were being utilized throughout funeral rituals, possibly to communicate with nature, or spirits or departed individuals, “Yang said, whose research study appears in Science Advances. The Jirzankal cemetery sits more than 3,000 m( 9,800
feet) above water level in a dry landscape patterned with parallel stretches of black and white stones. The entryways to private tombs at the site, a few of which hold varaious bodies, are marked by mounds surrounded by stone circles. The wood braziers were discovered in the more elite tombs, the scientists stated. Little is known about the origins of cannabis smoking cigarettes, but its usage at the cemetery resonates with Herodotus’s written account from the fifth century BC. In his Histories, he described how individuals on the Caspian steppe in the mid-first millennium BC would being in a small tent and burn the plants on hot stones in a bowl. Other evidence for marijuana usage has actually appeared at burial premises even more north in China and in the Altai mountains of Russia. Though remote today, the mountainous Pamir area may when have sat astride a busy trade route of the early Silk Road. If marijuana cigarette smoking stemmed there, or close by, it may have helped to spread out marijuana cigarette smoking from Central Asia around the globe. Topics Archaeology< a class=" submeta
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