A chemical residue study of incense burners from ancient burials at high elevations in the Pamir Mountains of western China has revealed psychoactive cannabinoids.
This study, conducted by researchers from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, provides some of the earliest clear evidence for the use of cannabis for its psychoactive compounds, and the awareness of higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-producing varieties of the plant.
Cannabis plants were cultivated in East Asia for their oily seeds and fiber from at least 4000 BC. Little is known, however, about the early use and eventual cultivation of the plant for its psychoactive and medicinal properties. Despite being one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world today, there is little archaeological or historical evidence for the use of marijuana in the ancient world.
Researchers have identified psychoactive compounds preserved in 2500-year-old funerary incense burners (braziers) from the Jirzankal Cemetery in the eastern Pamirs, China, showing that people were selecting plants with higher levels of THC and burning them as part of mortuary rituals.
This is the earliest clear evidence so far of cannabis being…