According to a new paper published in the journal Tel Aviv , ancient esoteric worshippers at a Jewish temple at the fortress mound in Tel Arad in Israel “likely smoked cannabis during cultic ceremonies.” This statement comes after a team of Israeli scientists performed chemical analysis on residues found on two Iron Age altars dating back more than 2,700 years at the entrance to the shrine; both were found to contain cannabis and frankincense.
The frankincense had come from the resin of the Boswellia sacra , a small tree found in Oman, Yemen, and Somalia, and according to a Daily Mail report, the presence of cannabis resin suggests “a deliberate psychoactive substance” was made and burned to “stimulate ecstasy as part of esoteric ceremonies.”
Ancient Worshippers Participated in Cannabis Ceremonies
The Tel Arad fortified city is located west of the Dead Sea about six miles (9.67 km) from the modern Israeli city of Arad in southern Israel’s Negev desert. Having defended the southern border of the kingdom of Judah , it is regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel.
This site was first excavated in the 1960s when the outer courtyard and inner sanctuary, the “holy of holies,” were discovered. This was where animals were sacrificed to god. The original holy of holies has been reconstructed and is on display in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem .
It was at the entrance to the “holy of holies” within the shrine that the two altars were discovered, the smaller of which is about 15.7 inches tall (39.88 cm) and the larger around 19.6 inches (49.78 cm). And it was on the surfaces of these two altars, almost six decades later, that the scientists found and analyzed a layer of dark organic material. According to the lead author of the new paper, Dr, Eran Arie, of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, his study presents the “earliest evidence of cultic use of cannabis in the world” and “the first known evidence of hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah.”
Jewish Hash Traffickers of the Ancient Levant
The discovery of the use of cannabis within the shrine “must have played a central role in the cultic rituals performed there,” said Dr. Arie. Arie also speculates that because the fortress at Arad is rather limited in size and the courtyard of the shrine might have been used for the gathering of all the population of the fortress, one can imagine that ““everybody” who dwelt in the fortress would have taken part in the religious ceremonies in the shrine,” which involved breathing in cannabis smoke.
In the ancient shrine, archaeologists found the smaller of the two altars had traces of cannabis mixed with animal dung – which is thought to have added to the heating of the sacred environment. The largest altar was found with a layer of visible black residue containing traces of cannabis and frankincense mixed with animal fat, which the researchers think promoted evaporation, which would have enhanced the psychotropic effects of the drug by slowly melting the plant trichomes and terpenes into the breathable air.