Signs of ritual pot smoking found in ancient Chinese graves

One of the braziers as it was found in a gravesite

One of the braziers as it was found in a gravesite

Their analysis of this also found that ancient cannabis plants contained a high level of psychoactive compounds never before seen at an archaeological site.

The researchers from China and Germany found the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the psychoactive chemicals in the plant that make people high - levels were particularly high in the samples tested. Cannabis plants were cultivated in East Asia for their oily seeds and fibre from at least 4000 BC.

Compared to cultivated varieties, wild cannabis plants contain lower levels of THC, one of the psychoactive compounds in cannabis.

This according to the abstract of a new research article called 'The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs.' According to the article, ten wooden braziers were exhumed from tombs in the 2500-year-old Jirzankal Cemetery on the Pamir Plateau in China.

The evidence described Wednesday in the journal Science Advances is thought to be some of the earliest yet of cannabis being used as a mind-altering substance.

The scientists used a method called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to isolate and identify compounds preserved in the burners.

To their surprise, the chemical signature of the isolated compounds exactly matched the chemical signature of cannabis. The Jirzankal Cemetery findings also suits with assorted veteran evidence for hashish utilize at burial sites in the Altai Mountains of Russian Federation.

Robert Spengler, the lead archaeobotanist for the study and a researcher at the Max Planck Institute, said: "Modern perspectives on cannabis vary tremendously cross-culturally, but it is clear that the plant has a long history of human use, medicinally, ritually, and recreationally, over countless millennia".

The elevated THC levels develop the seek recordsdata from of whether or not the of us historical wild hashish varieties with naturally high THC levels or flowers bred to be stronger.

A 2006 study revealed the presence of cannabis seeds in a separate Chinese tomb but offered no indication that the plant had been burned or smoked.

While humans have employed hemp as fabric and rope since the Neolithic age, little is known about early cultivation of the plant as a recreational or medicinal drug.

"This study is important for understanding the antiquity of drug use", Spengler said, adding that evidence now points to a wide geographic distribution of marijuana use in the ancient world.

The history of ancient drug use has long intrigued scholars.

"We all know dinky or no about these of us past what has been recovered from this cemetery", Spengler acknowledged, though he eminent that one of the indispensable crucial artifacts reminiscent of glass beads, metal items and ceramics resemble these from farther west in Central Asia, suggesting cultural links.

Though remote today, the mountainous Pamir region may once have sat astride a busy trade route of the early Silk Road.

Cannabis is known for its "plasticity", or ability for new generations of plants to express different characteristics from earlier generations depending on exposure to environmental factors such as sunlight, temperature, and altitude.

Wooden pieces and burnt stones in the tombs in western China.

Understanding when people started to use cannabis is challenging because the preservation of cannabis in an archaeological site generally requires some special circumstances.