How a Weed Blanket on a Mummy Shows Marijuana’s Ancient Use

Weed Blanket
The Weed Blanket covering the "Cannabis Mummy" in the burial tombs found within Turpan, China.

So how many of you just want to snuggle up with your favorite weed blanket and watch the movie, The Mummy? Show of hands?

Anyone? Errr… not so much. Fair enough.

You’re probably wondering what a “weed blanket” is? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered….literally, like a blanket.

So sit back, and let me tell you all about “The Cannabis Mummy and the Story of the Weed Blanket.”

Just under two years ago, archaeologist Hongen Jiang and his crew in October of 2016 found an ancient cannabis burial shroud in Turpan, a prefecture-level city west of China.

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A man leaves the Emin Mosque in Turpan, Xinjiang region, on June 27, 2013. (File image via AFP)

Radiometric dating of this tomb and the archaeobotanical remains indicate that the body was 2800–2400 years old. But what makes this burial so unique is that the body was wrapped in cannabis plants and leaves. Literally, the body was covered in a “weed blanket,” that’s right, a blanket made out of marijuana.

The roots of the plants started under the pelvic area and extended up over the body, and the tips, most had been trimmed (or maybe someone smoked them?), were laid across the facial area. So he was basically wrapped in a blanket of marijuana. Yes, I believe, I just found my new sleeping arrangement.

canna mummy - How a Weed Blanket on a Mummy Shows Marijuana’s Ancient Use
Here’s a picture of the burial shroud where the “Cannabis Mummy” was discovered.

Thirteen plants, all up to a meter long, were wrapped around the man’s body, which was laid upon a wooden bed while his head rested upon a pillow of reeds.

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The burial platform, composed of wooden slats.

What makes this discovery even more unique is the fact that the skeletal remains belonged to a 35-year old male that exhibited Caucasian features. He was probably traveling along The Silk Road which linked China to the West and was a popular route for trading. It was named this due to the fact that silk was the major trade item along this road, and possibly some seriously dank weed was traded along the way as well.

silk road - How a Weed Blanket on a Mummy Shows Marijuana’s Ancient Use
The Silk Road was a popular trade route that linked China to the West, and this is where the cannabis was found.

Cannabis Used to Wrap the Body

This burial was just one of the 200+ graves that have been excavated at the Jiayi cemetery in Turpan.

Previous discoveries in Turpan’s tombs only contained parts of plants, so this made it difficult for the archaeologists to determine where the cannabis originated from. But thanks to this recent discovery and the whole plants that were used to wrap the body, they were, in fact, able to determine that it was – grown locally – and was indeed fresh when originally laid upon the body.

Of the thirteen plants, most of the flowering heads were cut off (interestingly enough they were all female. Hmmm?), but the few that remained intact suggested that the plants were harvested when the burial occurred, in the summer. What better time to throw a weed party than in the summer? Am I right? Huh huh? Am I right? Hot summer sessions, ladies, and gentlemen!

1st Discovered Cannabis Shroud

This was the first discovered incident where cannabis leaves were used as a “shroud” in a human burial, and it was also the first time that archaeologists had discovered whole and mostly intact cannabis plants.

Since this is the first time where whole plants have been found, maybe it’s because it was shwaggy weed and nobody wanted to smoke it? Maybe all the other discoveries contained a bomb stash, and that’s why there was hardly anything left? Don’t get me wrong, there have been discoveries of other cannabis plants throughout burials in Turpan, most notably in Yanghai Tombs near Turpan over a decade ago.

In 2008, there were an estimated two thousand pounds of cannabis seeds and powdered marijuana leaves that were discovered in Yanghai. Two thousand pounds of seeds! Could you imagine the size of the crop that you could grow with that amount!

The Tombs Belonged to the Subeixi Culture

The discovery of these tombs was said to belong to the culture known as the Subeixi.

Turpan Basin - How a Weed Blanket on a Mummy Shows Marijuana’s Ancient Use
The Turpan Basin, where the Subeixi Culture existed some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. (File image via Getty)

The Subeixi culture also known as “The Jushi or Gushi Kingdom,” dates back to 1st millennium BCE in Turpan. 

People of the Subeixi culture were said to be pastoral, and later become the first permanent residents of the Turpan Basin in western China. Or maybe they were just the original stoner settlers who happened to find a killer crop to live off and spend their days in a mellow haze! Ahhh, those were the times!

Was Weed a Big Hit in Ancient Funerals?

This discovery adds to a growing body of evidence from many other findings across the globe, and also from numerous amounts of research that have been conducted, that marijuana may, in fact, have been used by ancient civilizations for its psychoactive properties. This could be the reason why it was incorporated into their rituals, such as this particular burial shroud.

Scientists and archaeologists have also questioned if cannabis was farmed, used for trade in the area, or it possibly grew wild throughout the region.

But more findings are increasingly illuminating on how marijuana use stretches back to antiquity.

In May, a new research has surfaced saying that cannabis was abundant during the Stone Age in Europe, preceding the Subeixi culture or probably showing the ubiquitous nature of cannabis itself in the ancient world.

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