The Horse, the Wheel, Cannabis, and Language…
David Anthony wrote an absolutely fascinating book, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Apparently he omitted something from the list, according to a Motherboard article by Sarah Emerson:
About 5,000 years ago, a mysterious tribe poured into Europe and Asia from the steppes of modern-day Russia and Ukraine. With them, they brought valuable knowledge of metalworking, horseback riding, and technology such as the wheel.
But historians believe these ancient migrants were also packing another precious commodity: none other than the finest marijuana the Caucasus had to offer. And according to new research, recently published in Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, it appears they were once the drug dealers of the entire Eurasian continent.
Anthropologists suspect the Yamnaya people were among the three or four prehistoric cultures that eventually founded Western civilization—flooding Europe with new languages, genetic admixture, and metal tools that marked the advent of the Bronze Age. At the very same time, they also ventured east, into China and central Asia.
This tribe of nomadic herders originated in a territory called the Pontic-Caspian, andmay have spoken Proto-Indo-European, the ancestor of hundreds of Indo-European languages used today. Some populations, such as Norwegians, can trace up to 50 percent of their DNA lineage to these ancient peoples.
Even though the Yamnaya were prolific dope users, which scientists have discernedfrom large caches of archaeological evidence, weed has been cultivated throughout Eurasia for hundreds of thousands of years.
Mummified psychoactive marijuana, likely used in shamanistic rituals, has been discovered in the royal tombs of China’s Xinjiang region. Cannabis seeds dating back to 3,000 BCE were uncovered in the kurgan burial mounds of Siberia. And the tripped-out antics of the Scythians, a fearsome warrior clan, were once described by the Greek historian Herodotus as some “that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass…transported by the vapor, [they] shout aloud.”
Yet, it wasn’t until the Bronze Age that people’s love of weed really started blazing. “The cannabis plant seems to have been distributed widely from as early as 10,000 years ago, or even earlier,” Tengwen Long, the study’s co-author, told New Scientist. But it would be another 5,000 years before signs of heavy marijuana use first appeared in archaeological records. . .
I do highly recommend David Anthony’s book, in case that wasn’t clear. 🙂