These high plains drifters were after more than a good time…
About 27 million years ago, a miraculous plant diverged on the Tibetan Plateau.
Surrounded by mountains and three miles high, evolution did its thing, and a single, ancient plant species gave rise to cannabis.
Over the eons, mankind eventually stumbled upon it and, based on written records, humanity has been aware of the healing powers of cannabis for thousands of years.
In India, Vedic texts dating back to as far as 2,000 BC identify cannabis as one of the five sacred plants. The Rigveda refers to the mythical Soma, a beverage some believe included cannabis. Other accounts tell of eating the plant.
In ancient Greece, the historian Herodotus wrote that circa 500 B.C., the nomads of the Caspian steppe – Scythian warriors from which the legends of the Amazons emerged – smoked cannabis in tents as a cleansing rite after burial.
And based on a recent discovery, we now have physical proof that nomads living on a mountainous plateau found a way to use cannabis to get even higher…
Smoking Cannabis, Scythian Warrior Style
Archeologists have just discovered proof of that cannabis was used by the civilization that arose just downhill and a few hundred miles west from where the cannabis plant first sprouted long ago.
In a research article published on June 12, scientists announced that they had found the earliest evidence of smoked marijuana with high amounts of THC – the psychoactive component of cannabis.
At a location called the Jirzankal Cemetery, in what is now eastern Tajikistan, archaeologists discovered a party scene from 2,500 years ago.
At the ancient site, they found evidence of elaborate funerary rites, including fire, rhythmic music, and cannabis smoking.
They also discovered from the charred matter found in wooden braziers, and the stones used within them, signs of high concentrations of THC. This, along with other evidence, suggests that they intended to elevate their spirits and, from this lofty astral perch, possibly even commune with the dead.
In addition, it seems they figured the more, the merrier.
From other artifacts found in and around the tombs, it appears that the ceremony was a communal affair. These central Asian smokers would pile into a tent, pull down the flaps to the entrance, place the cannabis in the braziers along with red-hot stones, and bake up a serious mountain contact high!
And while these ceremonies were taking place at the roof of the world, down the hill and to the east, is where Herodotus’ Scythian warriors apparently performed the same ritual in their tents on the vast Caspian steppes.
But high concentrations of THC are hard to find in wild cannabis, so researchers are left wondering how much of a role mother nature played in the ritual.
Stress Out Your Cannabis for More THC
One big question remaining on the researcher’s minds is whether the cannabis these ancient people smoked was specifically bred to produce an increased concentration of THC or if it was simply a result of the environment. Typically, marijuana, as it grows in the wild, has either higher concentrations of CBD than THC or roughly equal proportions. So, the THC-dominant cannabis found at the site suggests cultivation specifically for THC content.
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However, when stressed with lower temperatures, fewer nutrients, intense light, and high levels of ultraviolet radiation, marijuana plants ramp up their THC production. And, at over 10,000 feet, the thin air of the cold, dry, sunny landscape of the Pamir Plateau created the perfect conditions to grow stressed-out, THC-laden cannabis.
Nowadays, you’ll find many of these same conditions replicated by modern-day growers as they work to ramp up the THC content of their marijuana. They install UV lighting in huge greenhouse facilities, choose outdoor cultivation in Latin American highlands, or shoot for really high-end cannabis in certain valleys of British Columbia or Humbolt County, California.
And today’s marijuana grown is definitely a result of human intervention.
Domesticated cannabis plants are highly engineered THC making machines. And with the booming CBD market, there’s a massive incentive to optimize the production of this healing cannabinoid in hemp fields across the U.S.
Heck, we’ve come so far that we don’t even need the plant to make our cannabinoids.
And though the people roaming the highlands not far from the Himalaya’s were motivated to talk to the dead with the help of THC, we now have hundreds of uses for cannabinoids- and the list grows daily.
This innovation means exploding demand for cannabis in every imaginable form along with a new motivation – profit. And right beside the scientists and entrepreneurs driving this demand along, you too are free to stake your claim in the booming cannabis industry.
But, back to 2,500 years ago, whether the high THC resulted from nature or nurture, we now have physical evidence that some nomads on a high mountain plateau figured out a good way to make use of what they had.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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9 responses to “An Ancient Discovery of a Mountain High Far from the Rockies”
June 21 2019