The practice of trading cannabis existed 5000 years ago. A new study revealed that Steppe herders were the first to trade cannabis.
Nomadic herdsmen of the ancient Yamna culture, from the steppes of what is now Russia and Ukraine, came to Western Europe about 5,000 years ago, bringing with them their language, customs, technology and CANNABIS, becoming the first merchants to sell this plant with psychoactive and medicinal properties.
This conclusion comes after a systematic study based on an archaeological review of the records of paleoenvironmental fibers of cannabis, pollen, and achene across Europe and Asia.
The research, conducted by the German Archaeological Institute and the Free University of Berlin found that the use of this herbaceous species was not started somewhere in China or Central Asia as previously believed; but on the contrary, it was consumed in Europe and East Asia simultaneously in the same period, between 11,500 and 10,200 years ago.
“Cannabis seems to have grown as a component of natural vegetation across Eurasia from the early Holocene,” Tengwen Long and Mayke Wagner at German Archaeological Institute, Pavel Tarasov at the Free University of Berlin, and colleagues wrote in the journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.
It turns out that over 5,000 years ago, ancient cultures like the Yamna discovered the plants extremely versatile function, using it for medicine, food, raw fiber material for textiles and, of course, as a psychotropic substance used in spiritual ceremonies in the distant past.
Even though millennia, ancient people in Eurasia made regular use of the plant, there are scare archaeological records demonstrating the use of Cannabis in Eastern Asia.
However, all of this changed with the Bronze Age, some 5,000 years ago.
According to researchers this change „might be associated with the establishment of a trans-Eurasian exchange-migration network through the steppe zone”.
Researchers believe that the ancient Yamna culture and their neighbours the Bottai domesticated wild horses and were able to travel vast distances across the region establishing numerous trade routes along the way.
In an interview with Discovery News, Tengwen Long said that: “Cannabis’s multiple usabilities might have made it an ideal candidate for being a ‘cash crop before cash,’ a plant that is cultivated primarily for exchange purpose.”
“However, the value of cannabis should not be overly emphasized, as in the Bronze Age the exchange certainly did not confine to this plant,” Long said.
“Bronze objects, technologies, staple food crops such as millets, wheat, and barley, horses, and pandemic diseases were all possible parts of the story,” he added.
According to researchers, there is archaeological evidence that points to the fact that the ancient Yamna culture introduced the practice of cannabis smoking as they arrived and spread across Eurasia. Researchers note that they could have only inhaled the smoke during religious rituals.
According to archaeologists, much more data is needed to understand fully the complex trade network that existed 5,000 years ago.
“There are a lot of unaddressed questions awaiting scientists to answer regarding the long history of cannabis and the Bronze Age Eurasian connections,” Long said.