Prehistoric marijuana found in ancient burial site

We've heard that in ancient times, people were buried with their possessions -- but this one is especially fascinating.

In an ancient burial in northwest China, archeologists have found the remains of a man and his stash of cannabis. The man, said to have been 35 years old with Caucasian features, was laid out on a wooden bed.

The burial, which was in China's Turpan Basin, also had thirteen cannabis plants. Each were around three feet long and splayed over the man's chest.

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This is one of 240 graves found associated with the Subeixi culture, which occupied the Turpan Basin 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. This area was an important stop on the Silk Road.

Archeologist Hongen Jiang and his team discuss the grave in the journal Economic Botany. The scientists proclaim that the discovery is very exciting. While cannabis has been found in ancient graves before, this is the first time that complete plants have been found. Furthermore, this is the first time the plants have been used as a covering for a human burial, called a "shroud."

This means that cannabis may have been used in this and other cultures for ritualistic purposes. Furthermore, since the heads of the plants contain THC -- which is the chemical that gets one high -- scientists suspect that ancient people utilized it as some kind of incense or for medicinal purposes.

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