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 seeds and oil used for food in China.
Textiles made of hemp are used in China and Turkestan.
First recorded use of cannabis as medicine by Emperor Shen Neng of China.
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.
Cannabis cultivated in China for food and fiber. Scythians cultivate cannabis and use it to weave fine hemp cloth.
The Zoroastrian Zend-Avesta, an ancient Persian religious text of several hundred volumes refers to bhang as the “good narcotic.”
Hemp rope appears in southern Russia.
Scythian tribes leave Cannabis seeds as offerings in royal tombs.
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.
Herodotus reports on both ritual and recreation use of Cannabis by the Scythians (Herodotus The Histories 430 B.C. trans. G. Rawlinson).
Hemp rope appears in Greece. Chinese Book of Rites mentions hemp fabric.
First evidence of hemp paper, invented in China.
The psychotropic properties of Cannabis are mentioned in the newly compiled herbal Pen Ts’ao Ching.
Construction of Samaritan gold and glass paste stash box for storing hashish, coriander, or salt, buried in Siberian tomb.
Pliny the Elder’s The Natural History mentions hemp rope and marijuana’s analgesic effects.
Plutarch mentions Thracians using cannabis as an intoxicant.
Dioscorides, a physician in Nero’s army, lists medical marijuana in his Pharmacopoeia.
Imported hemp rope appears in England.
Legend suggests that Ts’ai Lun invents hemp paper in China, 200 years after its actual appearance (see 100 BCE above).
Greek physician Galen prescribes medical marijuana.
The first pharmacopeia of the East lists medical marijuana. Chinese surgeon Hua T’o uses marijuana as an anesthetic.
A young woman in Jerusalem receives medical marijuana during childbirth
The French queen Arnegunde is buried with hemp cloth.
The Jewish Talmud mentions the euphoriant properties of Cannabis.
Vikings take hemp rope and seeds to Iceland.
Arabs learn techniques for making hemp paper.
Scholars debate the pros and cons of eating hashish. Use spreads throughout Arabia.
Hemp ropes appear on Italian ships. Arabic physician Ibn Wahshiyah’s On Poisons warns of marijuana’s potential dangers.
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.
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.
During the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt, Cannabis is introduced by mystic devotees from Syria.
Nights, an Arabian collection of tales, describes hashish’s intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.
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.
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.
Ethiopian pipes containing marijuana suggest the herb has spread from Egypt to the rest of Africa.