Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Holy smoke! Israelites ‘likely’ used cannabis in ancient rituals



Holy smoke! Israelites ‘likely’ used cannabis in ancient rituals

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An Israeli Antiquities Authority photo shows an ancient altar on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. AFP

Holy smoke! Israelites ‘likely’ used cannabis in ancient rituals

It's highly likely that ancient Israelites got high on cannabis in religious rituals, say researchers who have found traces of the drug at a religious site in Israel.

Archaeologists made the dope discovery at the eighth-century Tel Arad pilgrimage site in the Negev desert, south of the occupied West Bank.

“The presence of cannabis at Arad testifies to the use of mind-altering substances as part of cultic rituals in Judah,” they said.

Writing in a journal article published by Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology, they said the find was “the earliest evidence for the use of cannabis in the Ancient Near East”.

The kingdom of Judah lasted from around 940 to 586 BC and centred on Jerusalem.

It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

“It seems likely that cannabis was used at Arad as a deliberate psychoactive, to stimulate ecstasy as part of cultic ceremonies,” said the researchers.

The discovery has caused a buzz online in Israel, where 21st-century smokers use smartphones and encrypted messaging to order weed deliveries.

Medical use of cannabis is allowed in the country but police frequently boast of drug busts.

The researchers said they were surprised by the discovery.

“Hallucinogenic substances are known from various neighbouring cultures, but this is the first known evidence of hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah,” said the team, led by Eran Arie from Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.

The team has called for further research to better understand the practice and its breadth.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple