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Monday, February 20, 2017

Bronze Age dope dealers


Over at Vegetation History and Archaeobotany:

Abstract: A systematic review of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records of cannabis (fibres, pollen, achenes and imprints of achenes) reveals its complex history in Eurasia. A multiregional origin of human use of the plant is proposed, considering the more or less contemporaneous appearance of cannabis records in two distal parts (Europe and East Asia) of the continent. A marked increase in cannabis achene records from East Asia between ca. 5,000 and 4,000 cal bp might be associated with the establishment of a trans-Eurasian exchange/migration network through the steppe zone, influenced by the more intensive exploitation of cannabis achenes popular in Eastern Europe pastoralist communities. The role of the Hexi Corridor region as a hub for an East Asian spread of domesticated plants, animals and cultural elements originally from Southwest Asia and Europe is highlighted. More systematic, interdisciplinary and well-dated data, especially from South Russia and Central Asia, are necessary to address the unresolved issues in understanding the complex history of human cannabis utilisation.

Long, T., Wagner, M., Demske, D. et al., Cannabis in Eurasia: origin of human use and Bronze Age trans-continental connections, Veget Hist Archaeobot (2017) 26: 245. doi:10.1007/s00334-016-0579-6

See also...

RIP with cannabis

31 comments:

Chad Rohlfsen said...

Who needs military superiority when you've got the best weed? You'll be invited everywhere.

Nirjhar007 said...

In dope the Indo-Europeans trust

LOL .

Olympus Mons said...

Well don´'t really think Europe was marked by dope, steppe or otherwise. No archaeological heavy record AFAIK. however, definitely It was erect by booze.

EastPole said...

@ Nirjhar007 “In dope the Indo-Europeans trust”

Pseudo-Indo-Europeans were smoking dope.
True Indo-Europeans were drinking mead and beer with hops(haoma/soma plant).

I repeat: not dope, not vine, mead with hops is what true early Indo-Europeans were using to get closer to gods.
Indo-European homeland is where hops grow:

http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v97/n1/full/6800839a.html

Karl_K said...

It is not likely that early Indo-Europeans were using Cannabis in a mind altering way. Until a few hundred years ago, the cannabis grown outside of South Asia and South-East Asia had nearly zero THC levels. It was mainly used for rope, cloth, and seeds.

If the Proto-Indo-Europeans had used Cannabis as a drug, the active sub-species would have spread and hybridized into all corners of Europe and Central Asia thousands of years ago. Instead, in these regions, they had thousands of extremely diverse varieties that are not psychoactive in the least.

Karl_K said...

Already, quite a numer of modern Cannabis genomes have been determined, and probably many thousands are not-public in the private sector, along with phenotypes.

Ancient DNA results from Cannabis samples found in burials and other settings could easily determine whether they were food, fiber, drug, or mixed types.

Davidski said...

Not sure people would get buried with a plant unless it had some special powers, above being really good for making rope or pants.

http://eurogenes.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/rip-with-cannabis.html

Davidski said...

Quote...

Furthermore, the fragmented infructescences of Cannabis discovered in other tombs of the Jiayi cemetery, together with similar Cannabis remains recovered from coeval tombs in the ancient Turpan cemetery along with those found in the Altai Mountains region, reveal that Cannabis was used by the local Central Eurasian people for ritual and/or medicinal purposes in the first millennium before the Christian era.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12231-016-9351-1

They was smokin it IMO.

Alberto said...

A marked increase in cannabis achene records from East Asia between ca. 5,000 and 4,000 cal bp might be associated with the establishment of a trans-Eurasian exchange/migration network through the steppe zone

A connection between East Asia and the steppe zone would only have happened after 4000 cal bp. Before that, the exchange network existed south of the steppe, with S-C Asia:

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1783/20133382

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep07170

@Karl_K

Yes, the European Cannabis (Sativa) was likely not psychoactive and Cannabis (Indica) is only a candidate to have been used by Indo-Iranians in Soma/Haoma in Iran/S-C Asia. Though it probably did spread to Northern Central Asia early on and from there to the western steppe (with Scythians, probably).

There is evidence of Bell Beakers using hemp for fibers, but none for drinking/smoking (AFAIK).

ser nam said...

"They was smokin it IMO."

Maybe, and/or possibly eating it

Karl_K said...

In the Altai region, very likely to have been both present and used. But further North and West, it is extremely unlikely. Maybe used if imported for ceremonies. Unlikely to have been smoked, more likely added to a hot drink, like milk (Bhang).

But there is no way it was actually grown or produced in large amounts near Europe or the Steppe.

There are very extensive landrace collections from all across Europe and West and Central Asia. None of them are medicinal.

But they could have been easily grown in these places, and hybridized with the other plants.

Without DNA or actually showing THC content? Doubtful to have been a major thing.

Maybe long range imports for very important occasions, like funerals.

Karl_K said...

"Not sure people would get buried with a plant unless it had some special powers"

Actually, plants used for food and clothing are the most commonly found thing in ancient human burials besides dead humans.

In most cases and places, they have decayed beyond recognition or are overlooked, but Egyptian tombs were clearly stocked with images and physical examples of important crop plants. I suppose they were smoking durum wheat?

capra internetensis said...

@eastpole

Mead yes, but hops as soma? Get out of here.

George Daly said...

People forget that high thc strains are a late 20th, early 21st century phenomenon. That ditchweed you smoked in high school only clocks in at 2 or 3 percent thc compared to upwards of 30 percent that modern growers can pull. Thus the form most consumed was likely a concentrate. Not saying this is necessarily the case for the current discussion, but landraces still produce resin glands, and within a few generations, you can breed for potency. Also, even boring hemp produces cbd, which would have nearly magical healing powers for pre moderns.

EastPole said...

@capra internetensis
“Mead yes, but hops as soma? Get out of here”.

Hops were used for mead or beer production in Central-Eastern Europe since immemorial times. Hops have an antibiotic effect that favours the activity of yeast over less desirable microorganisms The acidity of hops is a preservative.

Hop/humle/chomel/chmiel was a very important ingredient of mead and beer in ancient times, so by metonymy hop = mead or beer.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymy

Somic ecstasy i.e. being drank with Soma in Vedic in Slavic languages is called ‘hopic ecstasy’ i.e being drank with Hop (by metonymy = mead or beer)[‘podchmielony’ in Polish].

In ancient pre-Christian Slavic culture personified Hop had the same role like Soma in Vedic culture or Dionysus/Eros in Hellenic culture. It was not only a god responsible for proper fermentation i.e. turning water into wine so to speak, but also was a god of love, uniting people and fertilizing fire god responsible for bringing children. In later Christian Slavic culture that role was taken by Christ. The link between Soma, Dionysus/Eros and Christ is well described in literature.

Here is an example of Polish wedding song which is probably the most ancient pre-Christian song in our language. Specialists in music tell us that it has a very archaic pentatonic scale, so it may be even much older. It tells about how personified Chmiel (Hop) creates marriages. You can replace Polish Chmiel (Hop) with Vedic Soma or Greek Dionysus/Eros and you will find perfect analogies in ancient cultures.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgDR5y_HAqU

It is also nice to see how genetics is correcting linguistics. According to linguists hops (haoma/soma) came from the East

Germanic ‘humle’ comes from Slavic ‘*xъmel’

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/humle#Swedish

Slavic ‘*xъmel ‘comes via Caucasus and from Iranian languages

Germanic *xumalaz < Slavic *xъmel Haoma/Soma

Karl_K said...

Ephedra makes more sense as Soma. But who knows?

EastPole said...

I cannot finish my explanations because for some reason my posts are cut. Have I exceeded a limit?

Alberto said...

@George Daly

People forget that high thc strains are a late 20th, early 21st century phenomenon.

This depends on what you call "high". Usually it's more or less about the CBD to THC ratio, since CBD counteracts the (psycho-)activity of THC. An analysis was done on Cannabis found on a 2700 y.o. burial in Xinjiang (NW China) and it was consistent with it being a psychoactive plant:

All of these observations are consistent with strains of cannabis with a high THC content and in an alternative taxonomy suggests it should be assigned to Cannabis indica Lamarck.

https://academic.oup.com/jxb/article/59/15/4171/518859/Phytochemical-and-genetic-analyses-of-ancient

Scythians can easily be related to that burial (at least by trade), and it's been known from ancient sources (Herodotus) that they used hemp seeds in some cleansing ritual. Now this has been confirmed by analysis of some vessels found a recently excavated kurgan in southern Russia:

https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.mk/2015/05/scythian-gold-vessels-used-in-hemp.html#BjlVzIjoUDy9c3Tk.97

Regarding mead, yes, residues have been found in Bell Beakers. But it's very unlikely that this has anything to do with Soma/Haoma. Alcohol is a very social drug, and totally "anti-mystic". I don't know of any culture that has ever used alcohol intoxication to communicate with the Gods (?). Quite the contrary, Alcohol get people away from God, and religions tend to forbid its use (maybe an exception is the symbolic use of wine in Christianity, but that's purely symbolic and never intoxicating). Mead was, most likely, for human celebrations - that's where it works wonders.

Strandloper said...

highly psychoactive cannabis has been around for a very long time.
good Indian hash is not an new invention.

The psychoactive strength of a cannabis plant is thought to come from an entourage effect of terpenes and cannabinoids.

having high THC alone does not indicate the "strength" of the plant.

Traditional landraces from India, south east Asia and Africa can be extremely psychoactive and introspective, more so than anything you can find in a modern dispensary.

batman said...

Bear from barley, dried hemp and ditto mushrooms seem to be the oldest drugs known, with roots back in the mesolithic. During the neolithic both beer and weed was used in social occassions. The chillum-pipes portrayed on Sumerian stelae is pretty close to ones still in use from the Middle East to India. Asia.

No need to mystify or stigmatize any of it by mere speculations, such as "mystic rituals" or "unknown gods".

Most historians looking into the use of both hemp and barley claim they were basically used as foods/nutrients and medicine. Hemp-seed and hemp-oil are well known as food-products. Concentraded hemp-oil is also a well-known pharmaceutcal. Though, the major use of hemp were obviously the fiber of the straws, that became lines, ropes and woven clothes.

It's said that without the Baltic hemp, the Scandianvian timber and the Finnish tar there would be no British empire, Dutch colonies or Danish fleets during the 17th-20th century. For sails and ropes there was no better than hemp, which is why the colonies in North-America became gross hemp-producers, until the age of petrochemistry made them obsolete, in the first half of the 21st century.

batman said...

Concerning the old water-ways of inland Europe, the Volga-route used to be the most important one, carrying all the travel, trade and cultural inter-change that kept Northern Europe connected with Asia.

Today it's known that already the mesolithic Europeans had established organized net-works along the rivers of Northern Europe and Fenno-Scandia, conecting coasts and inlands, from the Meds and the Atlantic to the Baltic and the Botnic coasts - no later than 8.000 years ago.

In this web of communication the Lake Onega was central - as the waterways connected it to both the Baltic and the White Sea. Moreover, from the eastern bay of Onega, at Vytenga, theres a direct connection to the sources of the Volga, Eurasias largest river-system. Thus the village of Vytenga got known as "the port of 5 seas" - connecting the White and the Baltic Seas to the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Today it's known that this Volga-route was the first "silk- and spice-route" from China, India and Arabia to Northern Europe. This traffic have been more and less continous from the Early Mesolithic to the Late Iron Age, when the East- and West-Roman empires, respectively, conquered Russia and Fenno-Scandia, creating the first teocracies and the first Iron Curtain according to "The Great Schism" between the fundamental regimes of Middle Age Europe.

Since then the new masters of the northern countries managed to force their superstition and teocratic monopolies of communication, travel and trade on the entire continent, leaving the memories of the age-old east-west-trade between Asia and Europe in the mist and darkness of the Middle Ages.

Thanks to the last century of scientific progress we're finally able to recreate these historic connections, cultures and timelines. Today we know as a fact that the Volga-route, along the Wizla and the Dniepr-Bug, was vital to the re-population of eastern Eurasia after the Younger Dryas. During the following, mesolithic period there's a steady growth of the networks of communication that during the neolithics and the metal ages came to exchange cultural traits, scientific knowledge and economical goods between Europe and Asia.

Evntually these routes would help spread the cultures specializing in the organized, domestic production of both vegetabiles and animals neccesary to populate arctic and semi-arctic areas. Concerning the spread of the larger lifestocks the distribution of lactose persistence seems to reveal that the spread of cattle-farming, contrary to goat/sheep-farming, are linked to the distribution of y-dna R1a and R1b. At the base of that culture we had the foregoing development of pots and ceramics - that seem to have spread along the east-west-route connecting the North Sea to the Caspian Sea...


http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~villandra/earlypotteryEurope.jpg

ser nam said...

"from the Early Mesolithic to the Late Iron Age, when the East- and West-Roman empires, respectively, conquered Russia and Fenno-Scandia"

I think your timeline is a bit off there. Roman empires were neither in Fenno Scandia nor Russia in the iron age.

"Since then the new masters of the northern countries managed to force their superstition and teocratic monopolies of communication, travel and trade on the entire continent, leaving the memories of the age-old east-west-trade between Asia and Europe in the mist and darkness of the Middle Ages."

Or it was taken over in more southerly routes.

Karl_K said...

@Strandloper

"Traditional landraces from India, south east Asia and Africa can be extremely psychoactive and introspective, more so than anything you can find in a modern dispensary."

That is exactly what I said. South and South-East Asia have always had medicinal Cannabis. But not in the Indo-European homeland or Europe, or Central Asia until quite recently.

Ric Hern said...

I think the Indo-Europeans thing was the Mushrooms. Hemp was good for clothing and roping.But there are certainly many other semi-poisonous plants in Europe that could have been used to reach a translike state.

Karl_K said...

@Alberto

"An analysis was done on Cannabis found on a 2700 y.o. burial in Xinjiang (NW China) and it was consistent with it being a psychoactive plant"

Did you actually look at the evidence? Sure it was consistent with it being psychoactive, but also with it NOT being psychoactive. Nothing conclusive. They are guessing because of context.

As an example, where I live, there has been a protest movement for many years where people plant hemp bird seed from China, and hemp food seed from Europe all over the place, every possible bare patch of grass, or planter, or garden, or field will have several plants. Everyone knows that they are not psychoactive, and the police don't even investigate anymore.

Yet, come the fall, when the buds barely start to form, 100% of those plants are picked to bare stalks. It is ridiculous.

It is extremely hard to tell the difference between many varieties of active and non-active Cannabis. This is especially true with the Chinese bird seed varieties. They can look like giant wide-leaved dark trees that you can smell a hundred meters away. But they will get no one high. The European hemp varieties are easier to spot, they are very tall and thin, but still, all the leaves and buds are stripped by people.

And plants from a grave several thousand years old? They will have to provide better evidence. Show me a pot filled with cooked buds, or hash residue on a pipe, or anything besides seeds or fresh stalks with ambiguous analysis.





Ric Hern said...

There are certainly to many Mushrooms accompanied by Faeries,Elves etc tales within Indo-European to not see the connection.

EastPole said...

Rigvedic poets use the same poetic metaphors and allegories as Greek poets and philosophers. Forget mystic, mushroom BS. It is not IE.

Karl_K said...

Germanic peoples definitely picked up a religous/mystical connection to Amanita mushrooms a long time ago, and it continues to the present day. You can find Fly Agaric mushrooms for sale next to mistletoe and pine branches at just about any German open air market late in the fall.

But, it is also found among Uralic groups, and many others across North and North-East Asia. So, I doubt a strictly Indo-European connection. I can't think of any other mushrooms that would be alternative candidates.

The opium poppy I would think was spread with Neolithic farmers. But it's historic distribution is a bit hard to define. It can easily be mixed with teas and alcoholic drinks and given other names, and is pretty stable and easily traded in the form of crude opium. It could have reached the early Indo-Europeans, but, like Cannabis, they were not really growing it themselves.

batman said...

@ ser nam

"I think your timeline is a bit off there. Roman empires were neither in Fenno Scandia nor Russia in the iron age."

The East-Roman empire were active until Konstantinopel was conquered by the muslim Ottomans in 1453. The West-Roman empire are still running, as the Holy Roman Empire, commonly known as The Vatican.

Better get your timelines straigth.

"Or it was taken over in more southerly routes."

Obviously - as a consequence of loosing the wars, getting conquered on both the western and eastern side - the old dynasties running the trade of the NW and NE Europe got subdued and overtaken by the Roman trade-monoplies. After two centuries of war and trade-war, by of 985-1050, the old kingdoms of the western Baltic and Russia ran out of military resources - and their resistance towards the 'holy' Roman empires dried out. Thus the Holy Roman Empire succeeded to conquer the Kingdosm around the Baltic ocean, forcing the Russian kingdom to subdue to the East-Roman empire, introducing greek churches and the slavic language across the Russian state.

Since then the trade of the northern hemisphere became monopolies of Rome and Konstantinopel, respectively. Which is why the old centres of the north was reduced to colonial suppliers, locked into a teocratic regime and a rigid mercantlism.

After their great successes on the war-field a great schism arose between Rome and Konstantinopel - of 1050-54 - concerning which centre should controll and tax the trade and the inhabitants of NE Europe (Poland, Balkan). Consequently the major trade-routes between east and west was closed and the first Iron Curtain - across Northern Europe, from the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea; imposing war and hostility between the old trade-partners and allies of the north.

Consequently the trade between Europe and Asia was steered away from the Volga-trade and directed straigth from the Caspian to the Black Sea.

The main beneficiaries were the Venetian Merchants who controlled the Meds and thus both the Easten and the Western churches. During the crusades they came to control the Middle East as well and thus create a monoply on the entire trade between Europe and Asia.

Which, in turn, made it possible to open the conquest and colonization of the vast "Terra Forntunata" - on the western side of "The Ocean Sea", starting a global colonization that still seems to rule the day.

ser nam said...

"The East-Roman empire were active until Konstantinopel was conquered by the muslim Ottomans in 1453."

Well aware caped crusader.

"The West-Roman empire are still running, as the Holy Roman Empire, commonly known as The Vatican."

And you got that from David Icke?

I'll just assume you have your own private definition of iron age then.

BTW I think Moslem empires were controlling trade on the other side as well, ie Abassids, Ottomans as doubtless many others did before, Macedonia, Persians...

batman said...

@ ser nam

If you can't comprehend the connections made throughout the iron-age and the middle-age you better ask for clearification - rather than rant to demonstrate your arrogance.

Otherwise you gain nothing but feeding your own ignorance.