(ORDO NEWS) — The use of marijuana to achieve a narcotic effect began thousands of years ago. The oldest reliable evidence of this is the wooden incense burners found in the Pamirs about 2,500 years old, in which traces of hemp burning were identified . Now Israeli archaeologists have reported its ritual use in ancient Judea.
Back in the 1960s, excavations of the ancient city of Arad , 45 kilometers west of the Dead Sea, discovered two cities here, built one on top of the other: the Canaanite fortified settlement of the Bronze Age and the succeeding settlement of the Judean Iron Age. A sanctuary with a pair of stone altars was found in it, where ritual sacrifices and incense were held.
The artifacts preserved here made it possible to date the active use of the temple from 760 to 715 BC – the time when the ancient kingdom of Israel disintegrated and the kingdom of Judea with its capital in Jerusalem arose on this territory.
Recently, Eran Arie and his colleagues have performed an accurate analysis of chemical residues from the limestone altars of the sanctuary. They write about this in an article published in the journal of the Institute of Archeology of Tel Aviv University.
On the larger of the altars, traces of burning incense mixed with fat have been preserved. And on the smaller one, traces of burning hemp in a mixture with dried manure were found – apparently, this allowed to lower the combustion temperature. According to scientists, the plants contained fairly high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the main “psychoactive” substance of marijuana, so inhaling their smoke could very well cause a narcotic effect and ecstatic feelings during religious rituals.
Historians know that in the Iron Age, the practice of using incense, myrrh and other aromatic mixtures has already reached the Middle East. However, the discovery of hemp was a big surprise. The authors of the find believe that at that time plants were grown far beyond the region and could be delivered here from China or the current southeastern regions of Russia. It is assumed that it was Central Asia (recall the Pamir smoking bowls) that became the center, from where the practice of smoking marijuana spread along the Silk Road.
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