New Research Reveals Cannabis on Iron Age Altars at the Judahite Shrine of Biblical Arad

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Shrine at Arad

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Front view of the shrine at Arad, rebuilt in the Israel Museum. The top?down view of the altars: on where you can see the black residue of marijuana and frankincense. Credit: Collection of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Photo © The Israel Museum, by Laura Lachman

Analysis of the product on 2 Iron Age altars found at the entryway to the “holy of holies” of a shrine at Tel Arad in the Beer-sheba Valley, Israel, were discovered to include Cannabis and Frankincense, according to brand-new short article in the journal, Tel Aviv.

Past excavations exposed 2 superimposed fortresses, dated to the 9th to early sixth centuries BCE, which protected the southern border of scriptural Judah. Highly crucial Iron Age discovers were uncovered, consisting of an unspoiled shrine that was dated to ca. 750-715 BCE.

Two limestone altars (the smaller sized altar is 40 cm high and about 20 × 20 cm at the top; the bigger has to do with 50 cm high and 30 × 30 cm at the top) were discovered lying at the entryway to the “holy of holies” of the shrine.

Evidently, they had actually played a crucial function in the cult practices of the shrine. An unknown black strengthened natural product was maintained on the altars’ surface areas. Past analysis of these products stopped working to recognize their material and this dark product was just recently sent to natural residue analysis by modern-day techniques.

The research study exposes that on the smaller sized altar marijuana had actually been blended with animal dung to help with heating, while the bigger altar included traces of frankincense that was blended with animal fat to promote evaporation.

These distinct findings shed brand-new light on cult practices in scriptural Judah, recommending marijuana was utilized here as a purposeful psychedelic, to promote euphoria as part of cultic events.

Lead author Eran Arie from The Israel Museum in Jerusalem commented, “This is the first time that cannabis has been identified in the Ancient Near East; Its use in the shrine must have played a central role in the cultic rituals performed there.”

Frankincense originates from Arabia. Therefore, the existence of frankincense at Arad suggests the involvement of Judah in the south Arabian trade even prior to the patronage and motivation of the Assyrian empire. Arad supplies the earliest proof for frankincense in a clear cultic context. Frankincense is pointed out as an element of the incense that was burned in the Temple of Jerusalem for its enjoyable scent.

The “fortress mound” of Tel Arad in the Beer-sheba Valley in southern Israel was excavated over 50 years earlier under the instructions of the late TAU Professor Yohanan Aharoni.

Reference: 29 May 2020, Tel Aviv.
DOI: 10.1080/03344355.2020.1732046



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