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'Cannabis burned during worship'

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This is a story I originally missed but I was reminded of during one of my morning walks. After a rain storm, the sweet and fragrant herbal smells are calming and delightful:



Frankincense was found on one altar, which was unsurprising because of its prominence in holy texts, the study's authors told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

However, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) - all compounds found in cannabis - were found on the second altar.

The study adds that the findings in Tel Arad suggest that cannabis also played a role in worship at the Temple of Jerusalem.

File photo of ruins of the temple in Arad

Cannabis residue was found on an altar at the temple in Arad





Summary: The presence of cannabis at an alter doesn't mean it was used for its hallucinogen effect. Hemp, a variety of cannabis, also has THC. Industrial hemp is used for its fibers but will not have enough THC to have an intoxicating effect. Hemp fibers can be used for many purposes: paper, clothing, rope, etc.

It is doubtful that there would be enough marijuana to have an intoxicating effect, anyway. At least, it would mask the putrid smells that filled an ancient city: animal sacrifices, human and animal excrement, body odors, etc.





guy also known as gaius


Edited by guy

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One point though - masking smells? The Romans don't seem to have had a problem with smell other than they preferred personal cleanliness. It isn't the smell of the city they moan about - it's the noise.

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Interesting point, but the Romans did like perfume as well as incense They understood, however, the benefits of good hygiene. 

Maybe they were inured to pungent odors? They did use urine (for its ammonia content) to clean and soften clothes. They also prized the foul-smelling garum (a pungent fermented fish sauce) as a delicious condiment. Using public latrines might desensitize one to odors, including the communal sponge for cleaning.

I agree, however, that the ancients didn't seem to complain about the surrounding smells, only bad breath or body odor.


Here's a scholarly article "Stop and Smell the Romans: Odor in Roman Literature" by Kate Allen:


Edited by guy

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