Cannabis, the plant that gave birth to pot,
has been used for millennia.
它是谷物 油料 绳索的原料
As a source of grain, oil, rope,
and, for some ancient and modern smokers, high times.
But figuring out who inhaled it first has been tough.
Greek historian Herodotus mentions
the ritual and recreational burning of Cannabis by the Scythians,
a nomadic Central Asian people, as far back as 2500 years ago.
But beside written records,
little evidence for ancient smoking has been unearthed.
Now, scientists say they’ve cut through the haze:
A new study reveals that
the first known smokers were
possibly Zoroastrian mourners along the ancient Silk Road,
who burned pot during funeral rituals 2500 years ago.
To search for ancient evidence of THC,
pot’s most psychoactive compound,
archaeologists analyzed graves at Jirzankal cemetery, a site at the foot of the Pamir Mountains.
Inside burial chambers that dated back to 500 B.C.E.,
they found large wooden braziers filled with stones
and evidence of burning.
To find out more about what was being burned,
researchers extracted organic material from the braziers and the singed stones.
Tests revealed chemical compounds from Cannabis,
including the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (commonly known as “CBD”)
and a byproduct of THC known as cannabinol.
What’s more, CBN was more intense than in other ancient samples,
suggesting that the Jirzankal pot was unusually strong for its day.
How it gained that strength is unclear:
Most wild species of Cannabis have lower levels of THC.
It’s possible that the burnt plants
were bred for their psychoactive properties
or that they naturally produced more THC in response to environmental stressors,
including the 3000 meter high altitude of the Pamir Plateau.
The plant could also be a hybrid.
Many populations passed through the high plateaus and valleys of the region,
and the cemetery holds the ancient remains of people from different areas,
revealed by strontium isotopes in their bones.
Most of the non-local people did not have a brazier at their gravesite.
As for the locals, scientists suspect that
mourners laid hot stones on top of Cannabis in the braziers to create smoke.
How deeply they inhaled is still a mystery.