China has very strict laws against marijuana use these days, but research suggests that ancient China may have been a lot more permissive way back in the day, around 2,800 years ago.
Chinese researchers have recently found a cache of 13 nearly whole cannabis plants inside a tomb located in the Turpan Basin, a northwestern part of China which was “an important stop on the Silk Road,” according to a new report published in Economic Botany (via National Geographic). The discovery was found among the 240 tombs in the cemetery site.
The discovered plants were reportedly arranged around the body of the corpse, forming a shroud. Experts believe that the dead man may have been a Subeixi village shaman. Carbon dating revealed that the remains of the buried man, which appeared to be Caucasian, was around 2,400 to 2,800 years old.
Researchers have had similar discoveries before, with cannabis plants found at sites in northwestern China. However, it is the way how the plants were arranged that highlights new evidence that the fresh plants were locally grown.
“This is the first time ever that archaeologists have recovered complete cannabis plants, as well as the first incidence of their use as a ‘shroud’ or covering in a human burial,” lead author Hongen Jiang was quoted as saying.
Researchers further suggested that “Apparently, medicinal and possibly spiritual or at least ritualistic Cannabis use was a widespread custom among Central Eurasian peoples during the first millennium before the Christian era.”