High spirits: study finds cannabis first used in C. Asian funerals

Washington (AFP)

At a burial site high in the Pamir Mountains, music from an ancient harp and the smell of burning cannabis and juniper incense fill the air, part of an elaborate ceremony to commune with the divine — and the dead.

These rituals took place 2,500 years ago and represent the oldest known use of marijuana for its psychoactive properties, according to scientists who analyzed archeological remains in China’s western Xinjiang province using forensic technology.

Their findings were published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday and place cannabis among the growing number of crops, from apples to walnuts, that researchers believe developed into their modern form along the Silk Road, said Robert Spengler, the study’s lead archaeobotanist.

“The exchange routes of the early Silk Road functioned more like the spokes of a wagon wheel than a long-distance road, placing Central Asia at the heart of the ancient world,” said Spengler, of

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