The Surprising Way People Consumed Cannabis In Ancient China

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When it comes to cannabis’s early origins, most historical research leads back to Ancient China. A recent archeological study has found that Ancient Chinese societies ate a diet that included plenty of cannabis porridge.

According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Archeology and material evidence and writings from the period, researchers believe people living in Central China put cannabis seeds into a type of porridge that became a consistent part of their daily diet. 

In what might be the first recorded case of using edibles, archeologists have found that people during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) made cannabis a staple of their diet.

Today in China, anyone caught in possession of cannabis could face a conviction for drug dealing that can result in a death sentence. But the study, reported on by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), found that people who lived in the heartland of China during the peak years of the Tang Dynasty may have considered cannabis more essential than rice.

RELATED: This Is How Scholars Think Ancient Egyptians Used Cannabis 3,500 Years Ago

The secrets found in a cavalry officer’s tomb.

The discovery began after a construction crew working at a school playground in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, unearthed a tomb. Scientists eventually determined that the tomb belonged to Guo Xing, a cavalry captain under Tang Emperor Taizong (real name: Li Shimin) who likely fought in battles on the Korean peninsula. Taizong ruled as the Tang Dynasty’s second emperor from 626 to 649.

The tomb, which sat undisturbed for 1,320 years, included almost perfectly-preserved wall paintings and artifacts. The well-sealed chamber had an arid interior, helping the items survive the ravages of weather and time.

One jar in the tomb held cannabis remnants, with seeds nearly twice the size of a typical cannabis plant today. However, scientists believe the cannabis came from a sativa that originated in Asia and had less THC than the weed now available at your neighborhood dispensary.

Dr. Jin Guiyun, a Shandong University professor and lead writer on the study, wrote that researchers found cannabis in the tomb along with grains, indicating its importance among crops at the time.

RELATED: Summary of the history of cannabis

Ancient China looks like the likely birthplace of cannabis use.

The report on the tomb is the latest in a series of studies that have found that the use of cannabis traces back to ancient China.

In a study released in the summer of 2021, Chinese archeologists reported finding evidence that people in central Asia 2,500 years ago used cannabis as part of a funeral ceremony. The researchers found evidence of cannabis in 10 wooden braziers from 10 different tombs on the Pamir Plateau in northwest China.

Researchers believe that ancient Chinese people used cannabis during funeral rituals, possibly to communicate with the spirits of deceased people, all accompanied by music. The irony is that kind of behavior could get you arrested today, and not only in China. But thousands of years ago, people used cannabis both privately and publicly without fear of interference from authorities.

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