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Public Add keywords here to make this summary more specific to a topic.Strict Scan [?]Archaeologists have serendipitously solved a mystery that has probably never been broached in any Sunday school class: Yes, some Judahites deliberately inhaled cannabis vapor,
and yes, they likely did so to get high.
“Our cannabis evidence is the earliest in our region,”study co-lead by Eran Arie, curator of Iron Age and Persian period Archaeology at The Israel Museum, confirmed in an email.
The limestone altar that preserved this charred cannabis was found in the “Holy of Holies,” a sacred space at
Tel Arad, an ancient fortress in Israel’s Beer-sheba Valley.
In addition to identifying the cannabis remains, the team also tested residue found on top of a taller altar in the
shrine, which turned out to be frankincense.
“[T]o date we don’t have any information about the way cannabis could arrive at
Arad in general or Judah in particular”Arie said
Another tantalizing riddle is exactly what role the cannabis and frankincense presumably played in the rituals at
According to the study’s results, the botanicals were mixed with other substances in order to help it char and
emit vapors: animal fat for the frankincense and possibly some variety of mammal feces for the cannabis.
The altar cannabis also lacked any discernible seeds or pollen, in contrast to ancient weed found at other
archaeological sites in Russia and China.
All of these details imply that the cannabis played “a deliberate psychoactive role” which would fit in with the
“Frequent use of hallucinogenic materials for cultic purposes in the Ancient Near East,” according to the study.
“[W]e can assume that the fragrance of the frankincense gave a special ambience to the cult in the
shrine, while the cannabis burning brought at least some of the priests and worshippers to a religious
state of consciousness”Arie said
For now, it’s enough to appreciate the novelty of finding cannabis in such a storied lost kingdom.
“The presence of cannabis at Arad testifies to the use of mind-altering substances as part of cultic rituals in Judah”the team concluded in the paper