It’s easy to nostalgically pine for the good old days or romanticize the simplicity of ye olde worlde but the truth is that the past was very tough on a lot of people. On this blog, we make a point to be on the side where the grass is greenest, and, though the current political climate may make you feel like you’ve got front row seats at the apocalypse, we’re going to point out that it could have been much worse. You could have been alive during the Stone Age. Sure, you wouldn’t have to pay bills, worry about crooked elections, or get caught up in the hassle of the daily grind. You’d be too busy hunting for food while often being hunted yourself by any variety of wild beasts. Yep, the Stone Age was hard so it’s a good thing the people of that time had a bit of reefer to help them blow off some steam after a hard day of not
becoming cave lion chow. Wait, you didn’t think Stone Age man had access to the good shit back in those days? Well a new study courtesy of Tengwen Long and Pavel Tarasov of the University of Berlin, Germany has offered a glimpse at a lengthier history of marijuana use than we’d previously imagined.
An Archaeological Archive of Cannabis
Long, Tarasov, and their research team have painstakingly put together an intricate database of archaeological plot points to paint a portrait of marijuana’s history that draws new parallels to the established beliefs. Most archaeologists agree that the utilization of cannabis sprung forth from Asia, specifically China or a central region. Yet, according to the gathered research, marijuana use has been recorded in areas of Japan and even the eastern part of Europe as early as 11,500 years ago; the same period when such recordings were detailed in the Chinese/central Asia regions. However, Long and Tarasov then traced the patterns of their archive to highlight that, while evidence of use in East Asia was scattered, evidence of Eurasian use was far more consistently noted…at least until the Bronze Age when East Asian use appears to have grown in popularity.
Horseback Riding Through the History of Marijuana
These patterns seemed to put some meat on the bones of marijuana traces that turned up in a series of Eurasian excavation sites over the years but is there a link between Eurasian use of cannabis over 11,000 years ago and the widely believed popularity of marijuana in Eastern Asia 5,000 years ago? The research team thinks it’s a matter of logistics; specifically the dawn of horse riding in Eurasia. Domesticated horses offered a hell of a leap forward in exploration and transportation, opening up new vistas of trading potential. The early trade routes fell along what would become the burgeoning Silk Road; an expansive route connecting Eurasia, the Mediterranean, Asia, and even portions of Africa. While much of the history of marijuana remains shrouded in mystery, these patterns beg the question of whether the plant was traded (for medicine, recreation, or both) along this early incarnation of the Silk Road.
Eat Me, Wear Me, Smoke Me
All of the ways that cannabis was used in this period are still just speculated upon. However, with the technology of the Stone Age, it's feasible that the plant was being used for its psychoactive attributes. Alternatively, the research team proposed that the Eurasian contingent may have been using cannabis for its vast medicinal purposes, as a textile material, or possibly even as edible sustenance. Again, the Stone Age was a rigorous time to be alive so a heaping crop of edible marijuana could have helped pad out the weaker hunting days or simply been used as a garnish to make those mammoth burgers pop.
Scientists have known for a while that marijuana use is old but not T. Rex-sparking-up-a-doobie old. In late 2008, an ancient secret stash of cannabis
was discovered in a Gobi desert grave. Estimated to be approximately 2,700 years old, the marijuana actually still had some green to it (so just imagine how dank it must have been back then). Cannabis is mentioned in the Vedas, sacred Hindu texts which are estimated to have been written as early as 4,000 years ago. Yet, the idea that cannabis may have been used for psychoactive purposes as far back as 11,500 years ago is astounding to say the least. As Long and Tarasov caution, additional research is necessary before getting too excited about their theories. It’s true that the history of marijuana isn’t exactly etched in stone. But I’ll roll one today for my Stone Age ancestors in hopes that they found some botanic euphoria; a bit of comfort from the trials and tribulations of prehistoric life.