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Cannabis was consumed in ancient religious rituals in Israel, according to an archaeological study

Two limestone monoliths, interpreted as altars contained residues of an organic material whose analysis detected THC, CBD, CBN.


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In 1963, a group of archaeologists found two limestone altars in the shrine known as “Holy Place” in the Beersheban Valley in Tel Arad, Israel.

To the surprise of many, a group of researchers have just published a study showing that the ancient Israeli faithful used cannabis during their religious rites.

In the expertise on the found elements, a shrine dedicated to Iahweh, the Hebrew name for God, was identified. In it, an altar with two limestone monoliths on whose surface found a dark preserved organic material.

This unidentified material was subsequently analyzed, in two laboratories and in their residues cannabinoids such as9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) were found.

Some of these archaeological discoveries are found in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Photo Credit: Museum of Jerasulem

For centuries, cultures have used spiritual practice and the use of cannabis to facilitate religious connection. For example, the worshippers of Shiva in India, the worshippers of Iahweh, reigns in Africa, among others.

“We never thought that Judah would participate in these worship practices. The fact that we have found cannabis in an official place of worship in Judah says something new about the cult of Judah,”  said Eran Arie, the lead author and curator of Iron Age Archaeology and Persian periods at The Museum of Israel in Jerusalem.

Cannabis: a vehicle to God’s love

To identify the dark substance found on the altar, the researchers took small samples of the material that was preserved with aluminum foil. From there, it was reviewed in two laboratories to establish cross-information. One at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one at the Israel Institute of Technology.

The tests analyzed were performed with liquid chromatography and gases, two of the most modern methods today. Tests found CBD residues, THC and their CBN degradation (by conservation).

“Organic residues attributed to analyses were also found suggesting that cannabis resin was mixed which would facilitate slow and group combustion,” the study notes.

This technique was sought by the ability to enter a group trance that allowed religious connection.

These well-preserved waste sheds new light on the use of the altars of 8th-century Arad and on the offerings of incense in Judah during the Iron Age.”, the investigation ends.

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