HempTalk - Business Blogs and Press Releases

Global Hemp Industry Business News Articles and Press Releases.
3 minutes reading time (504 words)

Hemp in Ancient Times

Hemp (Cannabis sativa) has a long and rich history that dates back thousands of years, making it one of the earliest plants to be cultivated by human civilization. Its uses in ancient times were diverse, ranging from textiles and rope to medicine and ritualistic purposes. Here's an overview of hemp's role in ancient history:

1. Early Cultivation and Use
  • China (around 8000 BCE): One of the earliest records of hemp cultivation comes from ancient China. Hemp fibers were used for making clothes, ropes, and fishing nets. The Chinese also used it for paper and possibly for early forms of medicine.
  • Taiwan (around 3000 BCE): Archaeological evidence suggests that hemp cord marks were imprinted on pottery in Taiwan.
2. Medicinal Use
  • China (around 2700 BCE): Hemp was included in one of the world's oldest pharmacopoeias, the "Pen Ts'ao Ching," attributed to Emperor Shen Nung. It was used for a variety of ailments including pain relief and malaria.
  • India: Hemp played a significant role in Ayurvedic medicine. It was used for pain relief, to reduce anxiety, and as an anesthetic.
3. Textiles and Rope
  • Mesopotamia (around 2800 BCE): There is evidence suggesting that hemp was used to make textiles and ropes in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).
  • Egypt: Hemp was used in the construction of ropes and fabrics, including the sails of boats. Pieces of hemp cloth have been found in the tombs of Pharaohs.
4. Food and Nutrition
  • Hemp seeds were consumed by ancient cultures. They were known for their nutritional value, providing essential fatty acids and protein.
5. Cultural and Ritualistic Uses
  • Scythians (ancient nomads): Herodotus, a Greek historian, wrote about the Scythians using hemp in steam baths, which was likely an early form of inhalation for psychoactive purposes.
  • Ancient Israel: Some scholars suggest that hemp may have been used in religious rituals, as indicated by historical texts.
6. Spread Across Cultures
  • Europe: Hemp was widely grown across medieval Europe for its fibers, used in making ropes, sails, and clothing.
  • The Americas: Hemp was introduced to the New World by European settlers. It became an important crop for making ropes, sails, and even as a legal tender in some colonies.
7. Hemp vs. Marijuana
  • While both hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis sativa plant, ancient hemp had low levels of THC (the psychoactive compound found in higher concentrations in marijuana). Ancient use of hemp was primarily for its fibers, seeds, and mild psychoactive properties in some cultures.
8. Decline and Prohibition
  • In the 20th century, hemp production declined significantly due to the rise of synthetic fibers and the prohibition of cannabis, even though hemp contains only trace amounts of THC compared to marijuana.

Hemp's versatility as a crop and its importance in ancient times highlight how integral it was to early human societies. Its decline in the modern era due to legal restrictions is a significant shift from its historically valued status. With the recent resurgence in interest and legalization in some regions, hemp is once again becoming an important agricultural and industrial resource. 

Hemp Biodiesel
Hemp and New Age Wellness

Related Posts