Thousands Year Old Cannabis ‘Burial Shroud’ Discovered in China

cannabis 'burial shroud'
In an unprecendented discovery, the ancient cannabis plants were discovered in a complete and well-preserved state. (Photo:Hongen Jiang)

Archaeologists have discovered an “extraordinary cache” of cannabis in an ancient burial in northwest China, and are saying that the it adds considerably to our understanding of cannabis use in ancient Eurasian cultures.

In a report published in the journal Economic Botany, archaeologist Hongen Jiang and his colleagues describe the burial of an approximately 35-year-old adult man with Caucasian features in China’s Turpan Basin. The man had been laid out on a wooden bed with a reed pillow beneath his head, and according to National Geographic “Thirteen cannabis plants, each up to almost three feet long, were placed diagonally across the man’s chest, with the roots oriented beneath his pelvis and the tops of the plants extending from just under his chin, up and alongside the left side of his face.”

According to Jiang, the burial’s discovery adds to an ever-growing collection of archaeological evidence showing that cannabis consumption was “very popular” across the Eurasian steppe thousands of years ago.

Radiocarbon dating indicate that the burial took place approximately 2,400 to 2,800 years ago.

 A detail from one of the ancient cannabis plants, showing the resinous "hairs" that contain psychoactive compounds. (Photo: Hongen Jiang)
A detail from one of the ancient cannabis plants, showing the resinous “hairs” that contain psychoactive compounds. (Photo: Hongen Jiang)

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