Cannabis enthusiasts will probably tell you that despite being prohibited and carrying a negative stereotype in many territories, cannabis has been used by folks for a very long time. Well, such advocates will be happy to learn that archaeologists have found evidence that proves their theory of cannabis use among ancient people. In a 2,700 year old temple in Tel Arad, researchers found a well preserved substance that has been identified as cannabis and its main psychoactive agent, THC.
The Biblical-era temple from the Kingdom of Judah was first discovered in the Negev desert, about 59 miles south of Tel Aviv and was excavated by Israeli architects between 1962 and 1967. According to the study published in ‘Tel Aviv,’ the academic journal of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology, two limestone altars had been buried within the temple. Researchers found clumps of biological material on the altars but due to limited technology at the time, the material could not be identified and experts assumed it was incense.
The biological material was recently reexamined by Eran Arie of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Barun Rosen, and Dvory Namdar of Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization, and their findings were quite interesting. On the smaller alter, the material contained cannabidiol [CBD], delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] as well as an unspecified animal dung that was likely used to burn the cannabis. The other alter contained traces of frankincense. According to the study, since marijuana does not lend itself to use as incense, it was most certainly burned for its psychoactive properties.
“Arad provides the earliest evidence for the use of cannabis in the Ancient Near East. Hallucinogenic substances are known from various neighboring cultures, but this is the first known evidence of a hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah,” the study says.
“The use of psychoactive materials is also well known in ancient Near East and Aegen cultures since prehistory. It seems likely that cannabis was used at Arad as a deliberate psychoactive, to stimulate ecstasy as part of cultic ceremonies. If so, this is the first such evidence in the cult of Judah.” According to Namdar, you need the right temperature to induce a high, “and they clearly knew this as well, just as they knew which fuel to use for each substance.”
This suggests that the ancient worshipers were not just burning the cannabis for aromatic purposes, but that they were intentionally getting high. “If they wanted to make the temple smell nice they could have burned some sage, which grows in the area of Jerusalem. Importing cannabis and frankincense was a big investment that could not be made by an isolated group of nomads, it required backing from a powerful state entity,” Arie concludes.
Experts say these research findings will give further proof to cannabis industry actors like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQX: PLPRF) who are convinced that marijuana has been consumed for a lot longer than prohibitionists would want the world to believe.
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