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Study Shows Cannabis was Food Staple for Ancient Chinese Dynasty |

A Chinese archaeological site has provided direct evidence to support the claim that cannabis was used as a food staple in Tang dynasty over 1,000 years ago. 

Previous research into the civilizations of ancient China has shown that cannabis was an important crop for thousands of years, with historical texts showing that the plant’s seeds were a staple food consumed in a type of porridge. Now, archaeological evidence is being found in central China that confirms the importance of cannabis during Tang dynasty’s rule over the country between 618 and 907 A.D.

Cannabis discovered in an Ancient Tomb

Workers digging a playground in Taiyuan province, Shanxi discovered an underground tomb. The remarkable deserted environment in which the tomb was buried had protected the walls paintings and other artifacts.

According to the researchers, the tomb was discovered by Guo Xing. This cavalry officer had fought against Tang emperor Li Shimin or Taixzong in a succession of fierce battles across the Korean peninsula. A jar with staple foods was one of the items found in the tomb. It contained cannabis seeds as well as the remains of their husks. South China Morning Post

“The cannabis was stored in a pot on the coffin bed amid other staple grains such as millet. Obviously, the descendants of Guo Xing buried cannabis as an important food crop,” said Jin Guiyun, a professor with the school of history and culture at Shandong University and a co-author of the study published last month by the peer-reviewed journal Agriculture Archaeology.

The cannabis seeds were significantly larger than those of today’s varietals, suggesting that a cultivar of cannabis had been bred specifically for grain. The seeds were preserved so well that they still had their original colors. Researchers noted that some seeds had retained their husks which could contain psychoactive cannabis compound THC. According to Compendium de Materia Medica, a book written by herbalist Li Shizhen about 500 years ago, eating too many cannabis seeds that still had their husks could “make a person run about like mad.”

“Cannabis seeds with husks are not only related to the high lignin content of the husk and its hard texture, which can reduce the chance of mold and prolong the storage time, it may also stimulate the nerves and cause hallucinations due to the consumption of husk for religious and medical purposes,” researchers with the Taiyuan Municipal Institute of Archaeology wrote in a report on the study.

A Study Shows Cannabis Can Be Used as Food, Fiber, and Medicine

The Tang dynasty saw cannabis as a major crop, providing both food and fiber, as well medical treatment. However, the Taiyuan was much warmer than the rest of the region at that time. Rice became the predominant grain here.

The family of Guo Xing placed artifacts in the tomb but they did not contain rice, as one would expect. Researchers found cannabis seeds instead, possibly reflecting the preferences of an ancient warrior who lived up to 90 years. 

According to ancient Chinese texts cannabis was listed as one of five food staples. wu gu. The discovery of cannabis in graves from across the nation has been confirmed by archaeologists. Some tombs are as old as 6600 years. Researchers have previously suggested that cannabis was used for both spiritual and funeral purposes. But the evidence discovered in Guo Xing’s tomb illustrates the importance of cannabis as a staple food crop as well.

“The cannabis was buried as food for the tomb owner’s feast and health in the afterlife,” the researchers wrote.