Since the beginning of recorded history, humans have cultivated and consumed cannabis, co-evolving alongside the plant. Hemp has made a potent impact on our development as a species, and here at F.A.B., we believe this history is one worth celebrating.
Join us as we leaf through the pages of our past, uprooting a humble human history of:
Blazes Throughout the Ages
Episode I: Getting Stoned in the Stone Age
In truth, no one really knows when (or where) marijuana sprouted into existence. Most commonly, however, it is believed to have originated somewhere in the harsh landscapes of what is now known as Mongolia and Siberia. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of hemp comes from rope imprints on broken Chinese pottery, dating back over 12 000 years. From this evidence, we can surmise that humans first used hemp as a versatile and sturdy material.
The oldest evidence for humans using marijuana actually traces back to 26 900 BCE, also in the form of hemp rope. These remnants were discovered in 1997 in what we now know as the Czech Republic.
In comparison, the oldest evidence of human religion dates back to around 5 500 BCE. This means our usage of cannabis, funnily enough, predates modern records of religion by at least 20 000 years. Truly fascinating that we celebrate the right to be of any faith in the contemporary age, yet largely deny the use of cannabis.
A Clouded History
Weed, indeed, is nothing new to our species. In fact, the word “sativa” derives from the Latin root ‘sativum’, which literally means “sown” or “cultivated.” An apt name for a plant that has seen so many different uses over the years. Initially grown for its strength as a material along with its nutritious fibre content, early records indicate that cannabis was adopted as a crucial religious and social substance later down the line.
The Yangshao, China’s oldest known Neolithic culture, had a hemp driven economy between the years of 5 000 and 3 000 BCE. Numerous Yangshao relics have been excavated along the banks of China’s Yellow River. It’s clear from the remnants of pottery and clothing that production with hemp was already well underway at the time.
What’s more, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Botany in 2008 claimed that a huge stash had been discovered inside a 2 700-year-old grave in the Gobi Desert. This would make it some of the oldest physical evidence of what is assumed to be recreational marijuana.
This first culture of cannabis, presumably cultivated in China, would eventually take seed in other neolithic Asian cultures. Marijuana soon became a centrepiece of Ancient Taiwanese and Korean cultures and economies. There was even a hemp goddess in Asia named ‘Magu’, who represented the highly valued relationship between cannabis and the agriculturalists of the time.
The consensus amongst archaeologists is that some of the earliest clothing, paper, medicine and weapons were produced with hemp. Admittedly, this doesn’t answer another, equally intriguing question – that is: how long have we been using it to “get high”?
Whilst China may lay claim to the oldest marijuana stash, what we know about history suggests that it wasn’t until India stumbled upon cannabis that it became a widespread religious and medicinal artefact for humans.
In the next episode of Blazes Throughout the Ages, we will explore the seedy depths of mystic Indian Indica, as well as the relationship between Shiva and Sativa. ‘Til next time!
Sources Cited Ancient Origins – Cannabis: A Journey Through the Ages, May 2015 –
https://www.ancient-origins.net/history/cannabis-journey-through-ages-003084  Psychology Today – History of Cannabis in India, June 2011 –
https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-teenage-mind/201106/history-cannabis-in-india  NBC News – World’s Oldest Marijuana Stash Totally Busted, March 2008 –