Ancient Cannabis Funeral Shroud Found In China

Posted: Oct 8 2016, 3:56am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Ancient Cannabis Funeral Shroud Found in China
In an unprecendented discovery, the ancient cannabis plants were discovered in a complete and well-preserved state. Image Coutesy of HONGEN JIANG via National Geographic
  • Archaeologists found well-preserved cannabis plants for the first time which were used as corpse burial shroud 2500 years ago.

An age-old cannabis funeral shroud was found in an oasis region in a desert of China.

Archaeologists have found a new stash of cannabis lying in a burial site in the Turpan region of China. This finding increases our knowledge base regarding the Eurasian cultures of the past.

How they used the intoxicating plant for medical and ritual purposes is being looked into in an in-depth manner. A 35 year old adult man was buried at this site. He possessed Caucasian features. He was laid on a bed made of wood and had a pillow made out of reeds beneath his head.

Over 13 cannabis stalks upto three feet in length were placed in a slash-like manner across the man’s pectorals. The roots of the stalks were pointing towards his pelvis and the topmost regions were near his chin.

They pointed towards the left side of his facial physiognomy. Carbon dating shows that the burial took place 2400 to 2800 years ago, according to National Geographic.

This find shows that chewing on and smoking cannabis was a common practice across the Eurasian region thousands of years ago. This burial is just one of over 240 grave sites in Turpan.

The cemetary represents the flowering of the Subeixi Culture. This was also known as the Gushi Kingdom in those ancient times. The kingdom was extant in the region some 3000 to 2000 years ago in the past.

The Turpan desert oasis was a favorite haunt way back then of travelers who made their way across the famous Silk Route. Cannabis has been found often near the burial sites in this region.

A recent grave even contained two pounds worth of cannabis seeds and leaves of the intoxicating plant in powdered form.

Western Turpan even has a burial site of a woman who probably died from breast cancer. The presence of cannabis seeds nearby is proof of the fact that she may have been employing the drug-like effects of the plant to ease the extreme pain she was facing.

This is the first incidence of cannabis leaves and stalks not to mention seeds being used as burial shrouds. It is a unique and singular practice that was extant in the region so many years ago in the past.

It however remains a puzzle as to whether the cannabis plants were grown locally or obtained through trade. Clues point in the direction of the cannabis stalks being fresh when they were laid on top of the dead bodies as burial shrouds.

The findings of this research got published in the journal Economic Botany.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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