Oldest Known Crop
8000 BCE

Use of hemp cord in pottery identified at ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years, located in the area of modern day Taiwan. Finding hemp use and cultivation in this date range puts it as one of the first and oldest known human agriculture crops. As explained by Richard Hamilton in the 2009 Scientific American article on sustainable agriculture “Modern humans emerged some 250,000 years ago, yet agriculture is a fairly recent invention, only about 10,000 years old … Agriculture is not natural; it is a human invention. It is also the basis of modern civilization.” This point was also touched on by Carl Sagan in 1977 when he proposed the possibility that marijuana may have actually been world’s first agricultural crop, leading to the development of civilization itself (see 1977, below).

Cannabis Used For Food
6000 BCE

Cannabis seeds and oil used for food in China.

Textiles Made Of Hemp
4000 BCE

Textiles made of hemp are used in China and Turkestan.

Cannabis Used For Medicine
2,737 BCE

First recorded use of cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng of China.

Sacred Plant of India
2,000-800 BCE

Bhang (dried cannabis leaves, seeds and stems) is mentioned in the Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as “Sacred Grass”, one of the five sacred plants of India. It is used by medicinally and ritually as an offering to Shiva.

Scythians Cultivate Cannabis
1,500 BCE

Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fiber. Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth.

Good Narcotic
700-600 BCE

The Zoroastrian Zend-Avesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes refers to bhang as the “good narcotic.”

Hemp in Russia
600 BCE

Hemp rope appears in southern Russia.

Cannabis Seeds For Offerings
700-300 BCE

Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs.

Cannabis Seeds In Pouch
500 BCE

Scythian couple die and are buried with two small tents covering containers for burning incense. Attached to one tent stick was a decorated leather pouch containing wild Cannabis seeds. This closely matches the stories told by Herodotus. The gravesite, discovered in the late 1940s, was in Pazryk, northwest of the Tien Shan Mountains in modern-day Khazakstan. Hemp is introduced into Northern Europe by the Scythians. An urn containing leaves and seeds of the Cannabis plant, unearthed near Berlin, is found and dated to about this time. Use of hemp products spread throughout northern Europe.

Cannabis Use by Scythians
430 BCE

Herodotus reports on both ritual and recreation use of Cannabis by the Scythians (Herodotus The Histories 430 B.C. trans. G. Rawlinson).

Hemp In Greece and China
200 BCE

Hemp rope appears in Greece. Chinese Book of Rites mentions hemp fabric.

Hemp Paper Invented
100 BCE

First evidence of hemp paper, invented in China.

Ching Mentions Cannabis
100-0 BCE

The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts’ao Ching.

Hashish Buried in Siberia
0-100 CE

Construction of Samaritan gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb.

Hemp Rope and Cannabis Analgesic Effects Mentioned

Pliny the Elder’s The Natural History mentions hemp rope and marijuana’s analgesic effects.

Cannabis Used for Intoxicant

Plutarch mentions Thracians using cannabis as an intoxicant.

Nero’s Army Dr lists Medical Cannabis

Dioscorides, a physician in Nero’s army, lists medical marijuana in his Pharmacopoeia.

Hemp Rope in England

Imported hemp rope appears in England.

Lun claims Hemp Paper Invention

Legend suggests that Ts’ai Lun invents hemp paper in China, 200 years after its actual appearance (see 100 BCE above).

Galen Prescribes Medical Cannabis

Greek physician Galen prescribes medical marijuana.

Listed on Pharmacopeia

The first pharmacopeia of the East lists medical marijuana. Chinese surgeon Hua T’o uses marijuana as an anesthetic.

Cannabis Helps With Pregnancy

A young woman in Jerusalem receives medical marijuana during childbirth

Queen Buried With Hemp Cloth

The French queen Arnegunde is buried with hemp cloth.

Talmud Mentions Cannabis

The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis.

Vikings Bring Hemp

Vikings take hemp rope and seeds to Iceland.

Arabs Make Hemp Paper

Arabs learn techniques for making hemp paper.

Hashish Spreads

Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia.

Hemp In Italy

Hemp ropes appear on Italian ships. Arabic physician Ibn Wahshiyah’s On Poisons warns of marijuana’s potential dangers.

Legends of Hashish and Cannabis

In Khorasan, Persia, Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, recruits followers to commit assassinations…legends develop around their supposed use of hashish. These legends are some of the earliest written tales of the discovery of the inebriating powers of Cannabis and the use of Hashish by a paramilitary organization as a hypnotic (see U.S. military use, 1942 below). Early 12th Century Hashish smoking becomes very popular throughout the Middle East.

Persians Talk about Cannabis

Persian legend of the Sufi master Sheik Haydar’s personal discovery of Cannabis and his own alleged invention of hashish with it’s subsequent spread to Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, and Syria. Another of the earliest written narratives of the use of Cannabis as an inebriant.

Cannabis in Egypt

During the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt, Cannabis is introduced by mystic devotees from Syria.

Tales of Hashish
1200 1,001

Nights, an Arabian collection of tales, describes hashish’s intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.

Cannabis in Africa
13th Centuray

The oldest monograph on hashish, Zahr al-‘arish fi tahrim al-hashish, was written. It has since been lost. Ibn al-Baytar of Spain provides a description of the psychoactive nature of Cannabis. Arab traders bring Cannabis to the Mozambique coast of Africa.

Cannabis In Europe

Journeys of Marco Polo in which he gives second-hand reports of the story of Hasan ibn al-Sabbah and his “assassins” using hashish. First-time reports of Cannabis have been brought to the attention of Europe.

Cannabis Use Spreads

Ethiopian pipes containing marijuana suggest the herb has spread from Egypt to the rest of Africa.