A team in Israel have uncovered evidence of the ritualistic use of cannabis dating back to more than 2700 years ago. The evidence came after the researchers analyzed the charred remains of organic material found on two altars in the Iron Age shrine, which is situated roughly 45 km west of the Dead Sea. A similar analysis was performed when the shrine was initially discovered decades ago, but the technology of the time was not sophisticated enough to determine what the composition of the residue.
The more recent analysis—conducted by a team lead by archaeologist Eran Arie of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and bioarchaeologist Dvory Namdar of Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization – Volcani Center in Bet-Dagan—found that the material was a combination of cannabis and animal dung and dates from between 760 B.C.E. to 715 B.C.E. The team speculates that those who used the shrine burned the mixture of dung and cannabis at a low enough temperature to inhale the fumes for the purpose of becoming intoxicated.
As noted in Chapter Two of Medical Marijuana: A Clinical Handbook, the earliest archaeological proof of the ritualistic use of cannabis in what would have been Ancient Judea dates back to the late Roman Empire—between 300 and 400 C.E.
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