Marijuana And Humans, An Intertwined History: 2,500-Year-Old Cannabis Burial Shroud Found In China

China Find Adds To Humans’ Marijuana History: 2,500-Year-Old Burial Shroud Unearthed

We modern humans have a hard time understanding the true scope of history, both our own and that of the world as a whole.

With our up-to-the-second Twitter feeds and 24-hour news cycle breathlessly updating to bring us the latest “news” on whatever inanity this or that Kardashian or presidential reality-show contestant has been caught doing, the barrage of new information often obscures just how old the world is, how old humanity is, and how short a time our modern way of living has really been around.

Take drug laws for instance. Many people are rightly excited to see the false and oppressive walls of the phony war on drugs beginning to crumble. But most have no idea that marijuana has really only been demonized for less than a hundred years, an eyelash-thin slice of time on a global time scale, and a mere drop in the bucket as far as human existence is concerned.

We have a long history with marijuana, as evidenced anew by an exciting discovery in China, where workers have unearthed a 2,500-year-old burial site that contains the bones of a man draped in a marijuana shroud–with the budding tops of the plants trimmed off.

Archaeologists in China uncovered what they are calling an “extraordinary cahce” that they hope will help enlarge our understanding of cannabis’ uses for not only ritual purposes, but also for medicinal uses as well.

The research findings, published in the journal Economic Botany by a team led by archeologist Hongen Jiang, explained how they unearthed the burial site of a man who was approximately 35 years old. He had Caucasian features, and was found in a cemetery in an area that was then known as the Gushi Kingdom. At that time, the desert oasis there was a vital stopping point on the Silk Road, where traders from the Middle East, Asia and some thing even Europe made the perilous journey to China and back, laden with exotic goods.

The man’s body was found on a wooden pallet, resting his head on a pillow, with 13 marijuana plants up to three feet long placed diagonally across his body, forming a sort of shroud.

And while marijuana plants have been found at burial sites before, this is the first time they’ve found entire plants–excepting for the missing buds. This means they can determine that the plants were locally sourced and not bought from some far-off trader.

This set-up and the fact that the marijuana plants were all female, which contain higher concentrations of THC, is a clear indication that not only was there a ritual component to the use of marijuana, it was clearly used for intoxication purposes and not simply for fiber for clothing.

We still have much to learn from the ancient world. Here’s hoping we don’t destroy the modern one before we can become as enlightened as people were 2,500 years ago.

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