A Brief Interview With Prof. Yimin Yang, Discoverer of Ancient Chinese Cannabis

in Culture

Circa-Millions of Years Ago

Talk about a long growing season, Cannabis has been growing wild on our planet provenly, for millions of years and cultivated for perhaps many thousands. Cannabis sativa belongs to a narrow group of flowering plants (cannabaceae) to include Hops and a handful of others. Originating in Central Asia, cannabis became embedded in early Asian culture as the people derived such necessary staples as cordage for tying, fiber for clothing, and much more from this verdant little plant with a caravan of utility.

It isn’t hard to imagine that somewhere along the Silk Road some lonely night traveler may have wondered what other secrets this little plant might possess and decided to put fire to it. A possibility no doubt, but strong evidence that marijuana was consumed for its psychotropic effects in ancient times just isn’t there. Or is it? 

First Reference

The Greek Historian Herodotus wrote that as far back as 440 B.C. the nomadic Scythians, as part of their post-burial ritual for the dearly demised, consumed cannabis smoke to purify themselves. Paraphrasing his account, they would dig a pit then fill it with red-hot stones and form a small 3-pole tent around it. The next step was the throwing of Kavvabic (kannabis) seeds onto the hot stones, apparently sending up such clouds as to rival a fine Greek bath house. 

When the tent filled with the aromatic intoxicant the mourning Scythians would crawl in, breathe the smoke and according to Herodotus, “howl in their joy at the vapor-bath.” One could reasonably assume other parts of the cannabis plant hit those hot rocks. (I wonder if that’s where the term getting stoned originated?)

Herodotus or not, present day scholars require facts and historically there has been no substantive proof cannabis was burned and …

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Author: Alan Ray / High Times

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