Enlarge / This is how the
braziers were placed in the tomb alongside the deceased. (credit:
The broken wooden braziers, unearthed from 2,500-year-old tombs
in western China, contained burned, blackened stones, and the
interior of the wooden vessels also looked charred. To find out
what had been burned in them, University of Chinese Academy of
Sciences archaeologist Yemin Yang and his colleagues used gas
chromotography/mass spectrometry to analyze small samples of the
charred wood and the residue from the stones.
Their analysis turned up a chemical called cannabinol, or
CBN—an unmistakable chemical signature of cannabis. Those ancient
chemical traces offer an important clue in the history of human
drug use and the domestic history of cannabis.
In around 500 BCE, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus
described people near the Caspian Sea gathering in small, enclosed
tents to breathe in the smoke from cannabis burned atop a bowlful
of red-hot stones. Yang says people did something similar at
Jirzankou, probably as part of funeral ceremonies. Archaeologists
there also found the remains of a musical instrument called an
angular harp, which played an important role in later funeral rites
in western China.
Source: FS – All – Science – News
Oldest evidence of cannabis smoking found in ancient Chinese cemetery