Israeli Shrine Shows Earliest Known Evidence Of Burning Marijuana In Ritual Ceremonies

A new study found that a limestone altar in Israel from the Biblical Era contains the earliest known instance of burning cannabis for a ritual.

Earliest Known Instance Of Burning Cannabis For Rituals Found In Israel

Recently, scientists discovered what is possibly the earliest known evidence of humans burning marijuana in a ritual ceremony, found in a limestone altar in Israel that dates back to the Biblical Era/Iron Age.

Per the team that found it, the ancient altar was found along with a second one where Frankincense was burnt. It stood at the entrance of a room where religious rites were performed from time to time presumably inside the biblical kingdom of Judah. Furthermore, previous analyses made from the documented historical events and pottery found inside the fortress itself indicates that the ancient shrine was most likely used sometime between 760 B. and 715 BC.

The discovery wasn’t entirely new, however, since excavations made back in the 1960s already uncovered the shrine. But back then, the shrine was discovered amid the ruins of two fortress cities that were built on top of one another. The ancient fortresses reportedly date back from the ninth century BC up until the early sixth century BC.

Additionally, researchers also examined the upper surfaces of the altars back in the 1960s, although it proved inconclusive. However, a team led 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 used modern laboratory techniques to analyze the chemical components of residue left on the altars.

From there, the team came to the conclusion that cannabis mixed with animal dung was burnt on one of the altars, with the plant’s mind-altering fumes likely inhaled by ritual specialists. The sample reportedly contained enough of the plant’s psychoactive compound to get people high.

While experts are aware that people used Frankincense during rituals before, they weren’t expecting to find cannabis on the rituals.

“But cannabis is completely new for understanding incense burning in this region, and in Judah in particular,” Arie said. Furthermore, it’s still unclear how Middle Easterners learnt about the plant and its properties.

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