Evidence of Ritualistic Cannabis Use Found in Ancient Jewish Temple

Two limestone altars found at Tel Arad in Israel, with insets showing residue piles containing traces of cannabis (right) and frankincense (left).

Two limestone altars discovered at Tel Arad in Israel, with insets revealing residue piles including traces of cannabis (right) and frankincense (left).
Image: E. Arie et al., 2020

Archaeologists in Israel have actually discovered traces of marijuana on a 2,700- year-old altar discovered in an ancient Jewish shrine. The finding recommends ancient Israelites utilized mind-altering compounds during religious ceremonies, in what is an unmatched discovery for the region.

Ancient Israelites burned marijuana combined with animal dung on altars throughout routine ceremonies, according to new research study published in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. By including the animal dung, the worshippers were able to burn the marijuana at mild temperature levels.

The altar bearing traces of cannabis residue was discovered back in the1960s at Israel’s Tel Arad historical site. A 2nd altar found at the exact same site yielded traces of frankincense, which was likewise intermixed with animal excrement. The altars lay at the entrance of a Judahite shrine going back to the Iron Age. The limestone altars, which are kept at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, remained in usage from around 760 BCE to 715 BCE.

The Tel Arad site during excavations in the 1960s, showing the two toppled altars in their original position.

The Tel Arad website during excavations in the1960 s, revealing the two toppled altars in their initial position.
Image: E. Arie et al.,2020

With the scent of burning cannabis, incense, and animal dung wafting through the air, and with worshippers getting high off the fumes, we’re all of a sudden transported to an 8th-century BCE event in the ancient kingdom of Judah. And certainly, the authors of the brand-new paper, led by Eran Arie from The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, state the marijuana was highly likely used to cause a transformed state of awareness.

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” It seems possible to suggest that making use of cannabis on the Arad altar had a deliberate psychoactive function,” composed the authors in the study. “Cannabis smells are not appealing, and do not justify bringing the inflorescences from afar.”

Well, the idea that the fragrance of cannabis is “not appealing” is certainly in the nose of the beholder, however it does appear unlikely that the stuff was imported specifically as an aromatic. No proof of cannabis pollen or seeds has actually ever been discovered going back to this time and place, which suggests the compound, likely in the type of resin (i.e. hashish), was brought from abroad. What’s more, the researchers spotted enough traces of the two essential psychedelic active ingredients: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

At the time of the discovery, archaeologists noticed the black splotches on the limestone surfaces, but analysis of this residue led to inconclusive outcomes. A new chemical analysis, carried out by scientists at Israel’s Hebrew University and Technion Institute, yielded traces of THC and CBD at enough quantities needed to bring about a transformed mental state. This is now the earliest proof of marijuana use in the Judahite region and the very first proof of psychoactive substance usage in the region.

” The existence of cannabis at Arad affirms to the use of mind-altering substances as part of cultic rituals in Judah,” composed the authors, which included Dvory Namdar from the Volcani Institute and Baruch Rosen, an independent researcher. “The plants discovered in this study can work as an extra-biblical source in identifying the incense used in cultic practices not just at Arad but likewise those in other places in Judah, consisting of Jerusalem

Back in 2019, researchers explained the discovery of a 1,000- year-old hallucinogen set discovered in the Bolivian Andes. The kit, which likely belonged to a shaman, included traces of numerous psychedelic compounds, consisting of drug and the active ingredients found in ayahuasca.

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