Here’s a marijuana fact that you probably didn’t know: the same people responsible for building the pyramids of Egypt were also known for their cannabis use? And it wasn’t just the workers, but royalty too, including one of Ancient Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.
King Ramses II’s mummy was found covered in kief particles. Additionally, another mummy was found buried along with a 2-pound stash of marijuana, that was prepared for the mummy’s afterlife.
And it doesn’t just stop there, or stop in Egypt: from the ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls, to the first Mesopotamian clay tablets, evidence of prehistoric marijuana use can be found in ancient civilizations. Here are some examples:
Evidence of cannabis use dates as far back as 3000 B.C. (5,000 years ago). In Romania, fire pits were found with burned and charred seeds of cannabis – thus indicating the inhalation of marijuana. Some archaeologists believe it was likely burned for use in magical religious rite ceremonies.
In December of 2013, scientists discovered the earliest case of cannabis use to date. On the shores of the Kunar river in Pakistan, among the Hindu Kush Mountains, a prehistoric tomb site was discovered. It was rumored to have belonged to a local shaman, and contained marijuana seeds, resin, and ash. The combination of ash with hash and seeds has led archaeologists to believe that this is the oldest evidence (that we know of) of marijuana consumption in human history.
Prior to the discovery of the Pakistan location, China was home to the world’s oldest known “cannasseur.” 2 whole pounds were found in a 2,700 year-old grave in the Gobi Desert – and the cannabis that was found was quite similar to the marijuana that is grown today.
Genetic and chemical analysis were conducted, revealing that the herbs found in the grave were in fact cannabis. They even found that the male plants (which are less psychoactive than the female plants) were picked off of the stash, indicating that this was done intentionally, in order to use the marijuana for its psychoactive effects.
This suggest that the ancient civilization was both aware of, and made use of the psychoactive properties of marijuana.
As noted, there are many indicators of marijuana use in ancient Egypt. Something interesting was discovered on an Egyptian papyrus scroll, dating back to 1700 BC: some of the first known references to medical marijuana. Another scroll, Eber’s papyrus, which is known as the world’s oldest known complete medical textbook also contained a reference to the medicinal properties of cannabis. This text dates back to as early as 3000 BC.
They also determined from the recorded texts that hemp was used in ancient Egypt as a material to make things like rope and fine linens.
But it wasn’t just text that referred to cannabis use, it was pictures too. The ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, called Seshat was frequently depicted with what appears to be a marijuana leaf above her head. This illustrates the importance of the plant in ancient Egyptian religion.
Migration of Marijuana
The cannabis plant originates in areas of Asia. Therefore, a lot of the cannabis found in these diverse ancient civilizations was brought over by trade.
It is likely that cannabis played an important role in spirituality, as many of the ancient sites containing cannabis were the graves of religious men. These religious and spiritual figures played important roles in medicine, health and treatment. Thus, it makes sense that they would have brought it over to the Americas. Marijuana began getting prescribed to American and British patients about a century ago.