The history of cannabis is incredibly interesting and full of examples of unique cultural uses for the plant. The world’s oldest cannabis stash that has ever been discovered was traced back over 2,700 years and was found within the tomb of a religious figure.
Learn more about the world’s oldest cannabis stash below.
Where Was the World’s Oldest Cannabis Stash Found?
This cannabis stash was unearthed in the Yanghai Tombs in the Gobi Desert, located in Northern China/Southern Mongolia. The area covers almost 1.3 million square kilometres. The Gobi Desert was an important commercial area during the Mongolian Empire due to the many Silk Road trading cities located within the area.
Initially, researchers believed that the tomb contained herbs such as coriander, but, after a thorough botanical analysis, it was found to be almost 2 pounds of dried cannabis.
Archaeologists from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences were researching and testing materials found in the Yanghai Tombs when they discovered the tomb (pictured below).
Lead archaeologist Hongen Jiang is credited with finding the tomb of the blonde, blue-eyed Shaman who was estimated to be 35 years of age. The tomb was discovered in 2008. The Shaman is believed to have descended from the Gushi people, know to speak a language called Tocharian.
Alkaline soil and the dry conditions of the area preserved this cannabis stash for scientists to discover and test more than 2,700 years later. Interestingly, the non-psychoactive parts of the plant had been completely removed before the burial. There was THC found within this cannabis stash, however, the effects had been long mitigated from the age of the cannabis.
Cannabis History in the Area
Cannabis has a long and storied history in the area and within China as a nation. As well as paper, rope, and oil production, cannabis has provided several benefits over thousands of years. Here are a few of the most important events in Chinese cannabis history:
2,700 B.C – Shen Nung, one of the fathers of Chinese medicine, discusses cannabis extensively in his medical writings. This is the first known record of medical cannabis.
100 B.C – China begins mass production of paper, made from hemp. This paper is known as the very first paper ever manufactured in the world!
400 A.D – Taoist texts from this time mentioned using cannabis in incense, and as a smokeable substance.
1800-1934 – Thousands of pounds of hashish are exported from China to Great Britain.
1985 – China makes cannabis illegal, however, hemp is still grown widely and used in many traditional medicinal products.
2015 – Chinese health authorities publish evidence that shows cannabis use is rising among young people within the country.
For more on the history of cannabis, click here.
The Cultural Importance of the World’s Oldest Cannabis Stash
Cannabis was seen as a major religious and cultural substance for the followers of the Taoist religion in China. Many of their texts and religious doctrines mention cannabis as significantly important. This Shaman was also buried with several religious artifacts and personal belongings. The Shaman certainly thought of cannabis as an important enough possession to be buried with as well.
Now, the world’s oldest cannabis stash is on display at the Turpan Museum which is located in Xinjiang, China.
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- Lin, L. (2015). The lows of getting high. Global Times.
- Needham, J. (1974). Science and Civilisation in China: Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Magisteries of Gold and Immortality. Ancient Chinese Fumigation Techniques.
- Phytochemical and genetic analyses of ancient cannabis from Central Asia. Journal of Experimental Botany, Volume 59, Issue 15.