The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs


There is a long history of inquiry surrounding early drug use in Central Eurasia, and much of this research started in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with debates over what the mythical soma of the Rigveda or haoma of the Avesta might have been (1, 24). The soma debates entered Central Asian archaeology with Sarianidi’s accounts of the excavations of several large architectural structures of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex in the southern Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, which he interpreted as temples (25). Sarianidi claimed to have recovered ancient plant remains used for ritual purposes in ceremonial ceramic vessels from the famous “white room” at the second millennium BCE site of Gonur Temenos and also from a possible temple at the nearby urban center of Togolok 21 (7, 25, 26). Perforated ceramic vessels at the site were further assumed to be associated with preparation of the haoma/soma beverage,

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