Ancient stash found in Gobi Desert grave

Posted on July 15th, 2010 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Central AsiaA Discovery News slideshow, "Ancient Cannabis: Uncovering a 2,700-Year-Old Stash," relates a recent archaeological find at Yanghai Tombs in the Huoyan Shan mountains (Xinjiang, China): the remains of a tribal shaman from the  Gushi culture, who was buried along with a medicine pouch, riding bridle, bows and arrows—and a wooden bowl containing cannabis.

The vegetable substance was originally thought to be coriander, but laboratory analysis by the Oxford University team determined that it was in fact cannabis. A microscopic image of the ancient cannabis shows that it has retained its green color, and red resin secretions are clearly visible. A seed sample found indicated the cannabis came from a cultivated strain, although the male plant material had been removed—leaving "little doubt as to why the cannabis was grown."

The Gushi were an Indo-European people who spoke a now-extinct language known as Tocharian, related to the Celtic family. Apparently, many ancient peoples of the Asian steppes and deserts used cannabis. In 1994, Russian archaeologists at a dig in Siberia's Altai Mountains made a similar find at the gravesite of a Scythian queen.


Siberian mummy used medical marijuana

Bill Weinberg's picture

MRI tests conducted by scientists in Novosibirsk reveal that the Scythian queen whose mummified remains were found at Ukok, Siberia, in 1994 suffered from breast cancer—which may indicate that the cannabis found in her burial chamber was for medicinal use. (Siberian Times, Oct. 14)

Comment by Bill Weinberg on Oct 25th, 2014 at 12:56 am

Scientists track ancient spread of cannabis

Bill Weinberg's picture A Berlin Freie Universität team has issued a study in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany tracing the spread of cannabis from two points in Europe and Asia where human started using it some 11,000 years ago. Named as critical in this dispersal is the Yamna or Yamnaya people of Central Asia, one of the early Indo-European peoples, who are believed to have actually traded in the herb. New Scientist sums up the findings in a witty headline: "Founders of Western civilization were prehistoric dope dealers."
Comment by Bill Weinberg on Jul 13th, 2016 at 3:38 pm

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