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The oldest evidence of smoking was found in cannabis - and is 2,500 year old

Researchers have recently found that the cannabis plant probably originated from 20 a million years ago, but now it is found to be perhaps the oldest evidence of cannabis smoking with high THC levels for psychoactive effect, probably as part of a burial ritual.

Archaeologists have found tools to burn plants in the Jirzankal cemetery in the Pamir Mountains in western China, where remains of what researchers believe is the oldest evidence of cannabis smoking with a strong psychoactive effect.

Wooden vessels and charred pebbles that contained traces of cannabis components
Wooden vessels and charred pebbles that contained traces of cannabis components

Within the vessels, the archaeologists found carbonized pebbles with what was identified as remnants of cannabis with values CBN High - a component that results from the degradation of the component THC, The psychoactive substance in cannabis.

This means that most of the CBN that was actually in its early stages was psychoactive. In addition, remains of cannabinoid CBD and CBL were found.

Quantities of cannabinoids found in ancient vessels
Quantities of cannabinoids found in ancient vessels: mainly CBN, cannabinoid formed from old THC

In the study The researchers estimate the finding as 2,500 years old, making it the oldest evidence of cannabis smoke, which was made in those days not with joints but by heating the plants in a bowl full of burning stones and the inhalation of smoke rising into the lungs.

This is not the first time that the remains of cannabis have been found in ancient tombs in China, and even recently Were detected The remnants of 2,500 cannabis plants in the area are not far off, but this may be the most overwhelming evidence for use, whose entire purpose was "digestion."

"There is a long debate about the origins of cannabis smoking and a lot of speculative claims about its ancient use," explains Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute for Human History Sciences. "The study presents the earliest unequivocal evidence for both a plant with a high percentage of active ingredients and its use as a drug."

Skeletons in an ancient tomb
Ancient skeletons in the Jyrznekel Tomb in western China

The interesting finds were discovered after the archaeologists scraped charred remains from the same pebbles in ancient NNUMX vessels that were found in the tomb and examined them using a process called a gas chromatography (GC) that allows the separation of miniature materials, identification and quantification.

"Fortunately, we have been able to detect biological signs of cannabis, mainly components associated with the psychoactive effects of the plant," says Yimin Yang of the Beijing University of Science.

Archaeologists' findings in excavations at the Jirznekel Tomb in western China
Archaeologists' findings in excavations at the Jirznekel Tomb in western China

Along with the tools used to smoke cannabis, researchers found wooden plaques and bowls, glass beads, silk scraps and a Chinese harp, a device that often appeared at ancient funerals and sacrificial ceremonies.

The skeletons that were found on the site were not examined in depth, but some of the holes were located in their skulls, raising the possibility that at least some of those killed were killed or killed during battles.

"In all the vessels, signs of cannabis were detected suggesting that some ceremonial use was made of them, presumably to communicate with the nature or spirits of dead people," says Yang, director of research.

Girznekel region in western China
Girznekel region in western China

The excavation site where the finds were located is located in western China, not far from the Tibet region, north of India and Nepal - where researchers estimate it was also found The origin of cannabis From 20 a million years ago.

According to the researchers, Pamir, where the tools were found, are isolated today, but have apparently been used as a way to connect to the Silk Road - the main trade artery in Asia through which goods have been transported all over the world.

"This is a wonderful example of the close relationship humans have with the biological world surrounding them," the researchers concluded.

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