The world’s oldest stash of marijuana has been found in far western China, according to an article in the Journal of Experimental Botany.
An ancient Caucasian people, probably the Indo-European-speaking Yuezhi whose fair-haired mummies keep turning up in Xinjiang province, seem to have buried one of their shamans with a whopping 789 grams of high-potency pot 2,700 years ago.
That’s about 28 ounces of killer green bud, worth perhaps $8,000 at today’s street prices, and enough to keep Harold and Kumar happy for a couple of days.
“It was common practice in burials to provide materials needed for the afterlife,” lead author Ethan B. Russo, a practicing neurologist and prominent medicinal-marijuana advocate based in Missoula, Mont., tells the Canadian Press. “No hemp or seeds were provided for fabric or food. Rather, cannabis as medicine or for visionary purposes was supplied.”
But the researchers couldn’t tell if the weed was meant to be smoked or eaten. No pipes, bongs or rolling papers were found in the tomb.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus relates how the Scythians, Iranian-speaking nomads who roamed the steppes to the west of the Yuezhi in the first millennium B.C., liked to throw marijuana onto bonfires to induce trancelike states. It’s possible the buried shaman followed similar practices.
(Top image: Testing the 2,700 year old marijuana for THC content. Below: A close-up of one of the ancient marijuana leaves showing color and surface glands.)
Source: Fox News 12.03.08
From the Journal of Experimental Botany
Phytochemical and genetic analyses of ancient cannabis from Central Asia
The Yanghai Tombs near Turpan, Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region,China have recently been excavated to reveal the 2700-year-oldgrave of a Caucasoid shaman whose accoutrements included a largecache of cannabis, superbly preserved by climatic and burialconditions. A multidisciplinary international team demonstratedthrough botanical examination, phytochemical investigation,and genetic deoxyribonucleic acid analysis by polymerase chainreaction that this material contained tetrahydrocannabinol,the psychoactive component of cannabis, its oxidative degradationproduct, cannabinol, other metabolites, and its synthetic enzyme,tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase, as well as a novel geneticvariant with two single nucleotide polymorphisms. The cannabiswas presumably employed by this culture as a medicinal or psychoactiveagent, or an aid to divination. To our knowledge, these investigationsprovide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologicallyactive agent, and contribute to the medical and archaeologicalrecord of this pre-Silk Road culture.