Australia’s ABC reports

Humans smoked cannabis as part of ritualised burial ceremonies 2,500 years ago, according to the latest evidence unearthed at a burial site on the Pamir Plateau in western China.

  • Archaeologists have found traces of cannabis in wooden pots exhumed from tombs in western China
  • The find provides the strongest and earliest evidence to date, of cannabis being smoked for its psychoactive properties
  • It appears cannabis was an important part of ancient burial rites


But before you imagine ancient stoners passing around a primitive bong, the reality was probably quite different, archaeologists report in the journal Science Advances today.

The international team, led by Meng Reng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, excavated 10 wooden pots, or braziers, containing burnt stones from tombs at the Jirzankal Cemetery.

When the team analysed the pots and burnt stones they found traces of cannabis.

What’s more, the cannabis contained higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis — than generally found in wild cannabis plants.

The fact that the traces of THC was found in the pots and on the stones suggest that cannabis was used for ritual purposes, said Nicole Boivin of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

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