The Ancient History of Hemp

By Evan Marshall

Our ancestors have cultivated and incorporated hemp in their lives for thousands of years. Their ancient ways have much to teach our modern civilization about health and wellness through natural substances. Most amazingly, the use of hemp supersedes culture differences. Written history shows virtually every culture in the world used hemp in some form for its medical benefits. Let's take a journey through the ages to understand the role hemp has played with humanity.

10,000 BC

Ancient archaeological sites near the Oki Islands in Japan show evidence of hemp cultivation almost 12,000 years ago during the Bronze Age. This makes hemp one of the oldest crops in the age of human agriculture. From all available evidence, hemp predates the invention of the wheel and writing.

 

ancient hemp pot

5,000 year old hemp cord marked pot

 

3,000 BC

The Chinese Emperor Shen Hung recorded the first medicinal use of hemp in 2737 BC. He wrote about hemp's incredible effectiveness in treating his rheumatism and gout. Many ancient east Asian cultures used every part of the plant. These ancient peoples ground the roots into powder for medicine, wove the fibers of the stem into textiles, rope, and paper, and consumed the flowers for pleasure and medicine. Even the seeds were eaten and used to produce oil.

ancient china pot

 

The Egyptians also recorded the medicinal uses of the hemp plant as far back as 2000 BC. The Egyptians noted the ability of the plant to treat eye sores and cataracts. Pollen from the Cannabis plant has been found on numerous Egyptian mummies including Ramesses the 2nd.

ancient egypt hemp leaf

 

1,000 AD

Arabic physicians made use of the medical properties of the hemp plant from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Written records describe important medical properties to include: diuretic, antiemetic, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic.

persia hemp text

 

In medieval France, the hemp plant was widely known for its effects both medically and recreationally. When the Queen of France commissioned a book depicting agricultural plants, the authors decided to include the hemp plant twice.

french hemp drawing

Now

In our modern times, we continue to discover new uses for the hemp plant. Over the last 100 years, our society polarized the use of the hemp plant. We can now understand our current anticipations and misunderstandings of hemp as a mere blip in the course of humanity.


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