The World’s Oldest Stash: Scientists Find 2,700-Year-Old Pot

By Boonsri Dickinson | December 8, 2008 5:52 pm

(Credit: aastock/Shutterstock)

Scientists have discovered two pounds of a dried plant that turned out to be the oldest marijuana in the world. Inside one of the Yanghai Tombs excavated in the Gobi Desert, a team of researchers found the cannabis packed into a wooden bowl resting inside a 2,700-year-old grave. It was placed near the head of a blue-eyed, 45-year-old shaman among other objects like bridles and a harp to be used in afterlife.

At first, the researchers thought the dried weed was coriander. Then they spent 10 months getting the cannabis from the tomb in China to a secret lab in England. Finally, the team put the stash through “microscopic botanical analysis” including carbon dating and genetic analysis, and discovered the stash was really pot.

The fact that the weed had a chemical known for psychoactive properties called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase, or THC, led scientists to believe the man and his community probably used it for medicinal and recreational purposes. According to professor Ethan Russo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany, someone had picked out all the parts of the plant that are less psychoactive before placing it in the grave, therefore the dead man probably didn’t grow his hemp merely to make clothes.

If marijuana aged like wine, pot users might now be in heaven. But the weed had decomposed over the years, so no one would feel any effects if they smoked the artifact today.

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Image: flickr/ BodhiSativa Photography

MORE ABOUT: china, genetics, marijuana
  • JP

    I’m glad the author of this made sure to inform us no one could smoke it today. Appreciate that info – change of plans.

  • Bruce Kirschner

    Excellent article shows the resistance of the cannabis plant to genetic disease after 2700 years of being buried next to the head of a human being. Interesting enough the THC factor was less when it went into the grave and higher when it came out of the grave. Although it was mentioned that someone had picked out the flowers of the plant before placing it in the grave, I don’t see what that had to do with making hemp or the natives’ clothes. Of course, if I had picked the flowers from the plant and dried them out in the hot Gobi Sun, I would continue to bring the THC level higher and increase the recreational purposes of psychoactive plant.

    • T-Bell

      how would you know what the thc content was when it went in, did you hit that shit before it got buried?

  • Goofy Barney

    How is it known that the shaman had blue eyes? Fascinating.

    • Calgarycmmc Cmmc

      That was my first thought after reading this. Perhaps they found it written on the rolling papers. They would have had to leave rolling papers for the next life wouldn’t they? And a book of matches?

  • Yousuf Gandeel

    Were thier no seeds present in in the bowl?

    • Peter MC

      Man u need to stop getting ur weed from Tyrone, its all sticks n seeds.

      • John Thatshowiroll Obrien


  • mike

    Marijuana does age like wine, and like wine it must be sealed. Decomp occurs when oxygen is present……@bruce: once you pick the buds cannabinoid content cannot change….also exposure to the sun causes THC degradation into other less desirable cannabinoids

  • Andy

    They did a DNA check on the guy and it turned out he was Caucasian…and had the markers for blue eyes. If I remember correctly, he was also a redhead.

  • Eric

    Can the DNA check whether he a Dead fan?

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t be, Jerry & the lads were just working the west coast then.

      • Peter Mcchicken

        But his loyal followers did load his i-pod up with some jimi before they closed up the tomb.

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  • longjonsilver

    How much weed was in the tombs? hopeful a lot. afterlife is a long time, it would suck to have run out.

    • Peter Mcchicken

      yea and… nothing like having ur stash stolen by a bunch of nerds who aren’t even gonna smoke it… jeez.

      • boogababy

        NERDS! (lmao)

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  • Jay

    You know at least one of those scientists took a hit of that stuff….
    They just said it is no longer effective to keep potheads from raiding tombs.

  • Bob

    A pot head would not take the time to raid a tomb. He’s would be on the couch thinking it would be cool to do, but that’s as far as he would go.

    • Dougmckenzie

      unless u tell them there’s a bag of Cheeto’s inside…

      • John Thatshowiroll Obrien

        fail   ,. wheres bob

  • Mike

    Good one Bob

  • tom

    right on

  • Skeptic

    Actually, this is a cover story that was made up when the scientists’ stash was discovered among the actual tombs contents during shipping.

  • Bruno

    Yeahhh thats to green to be 2,700 years old.

  • Andy

    Jay slavik, good comment.

    HONESTLY bruno…are you R-tarded? that picture is a picture of two random-ass nugs that come from two very different marijuana plants, not the actual weed from the tomb. if you’ve ever found a stash you hid when you were too high to remember anything, you’d know from pure experience with smoking marijuana that the weed found in a tomb that was sealed 2,700 years ago would be dust-like, and not looking in fine health like that delicious picture at the top of this article. Even the misinterpretted short-lasting trichomes decay over rather quick periods of time, just like any product of foliage, haven’t any of you ever heard of compost?!?!


  • Ahem

    Andy –I agree, if by “smart” you mean “smug.”

  • samantha

    I love a smart pothead.

  • Echo 1

    This guy sounds like an ancestor of Jeff Spicoli. Just legalize this stuff and get it over with.

  • Cracker

    “…the man and his community probably used it for medicinal and recreational purposes.” Could there possibly be any other purpose for it being there? That’s kind of a worthless statement.

    • dal

      Making clothes, paper, oil. Marijuana isn’t just for smoking.

  • Karen Chung

    I’m more interested in the harp! Wish they’d posted a photo of it and discussed that a bit.

    • boogababy


  • Terri

    Now I have a dumb question. If the tomb was sealed for that long and the pot was found by this persons head,( coming from a forensic background), wouldn’t or couldn’t the decomp from the body cause damage to the “bud” that was place near by? And if it was seal well enough, just how much more did the THC go up or down over time? And would you really want to smoke pot that was lying next to 2000 and some year old bud? I don’t think I would realy want that on my lips or in the air, I could just imagine the purple haze! Not to mention the smell!

    • Anonymous

      The unique conditions of the region, dry, coll and alkaline soil, helped to mummify the corpse rather than cause the sort of leaky decay we see in other regions. I have the results from the study nearby somewhere, but I do not think there was serious potency left. The weed was cleaned of stems and seeds though and had a higher THC level than CBD indicating that it was selectively bred for potency.

  • mark

    just plug your nose! i would take a hit. but i am out of stash.

  • tone-bone

    I can only imagine how good that bud was. Grown in an area where the best weed comes from. Prior to seed banks of course. I wonder what else he was buried with. Pretty neat find.

  • Syn

    Well afterlife is going to be long if they didn’t leave him a lighter

  • MtnMan

    Pretty interesting.
    I am pretty sure it was indica ( wink )

  • UpNorthGuy

    That is absolutely crazy and I agree with “JP”, change of plans. Darn… LOL Great comments people, really funny stuff here.

  • drstenso

    it upsets me how stupid Bruce Kirschner is…
    they removed everything BUT the flowering buds. as in they removed the parts of the plant used for making hemp and left what is used to get high

    you cant up thc content by leaving weed in the sun. that causes thc loss

    please never post on this topic again

    • Anonymous

      The researchers found that the cannabis was only used for smoking/ingestion because the people had used other material for clothing and rope.

  • BECwhatever

    at first….this is not the oldest stash…. romanian scientists have arheoligical prove that hemp was used for medical and technical causes since 7000 BC……
    and then ….ROMANIA is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. 1993 acreage was 40,000 acres. Some of it is exported to Hungary for processing. They also export hemp to Western Europe and the U.S.

  • Element

    @BECwhatever –

    They are only saying it’s the oldest stash found – they aren’t trying to say that people started smoking pot just 2,700 years ago.

  • dark faerie

    hemp and weed at not the same thing they come from the same plant, but you can’t smoke hemp pants and get high… it’d be cheaper if you could though :-)

  • Ganjasaurus

    I bet even 2,700 years ago that pot was dirt compared to the ganja we smoke today. Plants have been more selectively bred and genetically tuned to contain more THC. I bet this shaman was a nut bar too.

  • river

    thc content has actually changed very little over the past couple thousand years. nepalese monks have been breeding some of the best pot plants for over 4000 years and even then those strains are only slightly stronger than the top notch cali or amsterdam medical. to be fair they bred those strains with the intent of the high being a religious experience, so its no wonder they knock you on your ass.
    and yea he probably was a nut, but a lucky nut.

  • Aisling

    @dark faerie
    …I’d smoke hemp pants! 😉

  • awbear619

    maybe its one of the original strains that are believed to be extinct. can we clone it?!?!?

  • /andre s lange

    Damn some very funny stuff here! Next to amazing news from Archaelogy about the oldest pot found ever! Lol to “Jay Says”!!!!!

  • /andre s lange

    Also lol to eric says re: the Dead comment…….very appropriate!

  • Muchdung

    Yeah? Well, what I wanna know is have they found a 2,700 year old bong with bong water still in it? Now that would be a find!

  • Rationalman

    He was also a homosexual….the harp…
    Real men played horns…. sheep horns… :)

    and I’m sure the people of that day were trying to breed the best…that’s just the nature of pot..
    for it was..
    Moses,. going up the hill, to check on his plant…kush….
    when it burst into flames from the heat of the desert…and he got a big whiff of the smoke…became extremely high and came up with the 10 commandments…

    the 11the Commandment should be

  • teddy heald

    is there a picture of the marijuana

  • Alex

    I wonder if they found any shrooms in his tomb…

  • RYNO

    It just goes to show how common recreational use was back then. They thought to put some cannabis, out of everything else from life, into this guys tomb for afterlife. Cannabis is non toxic to healthy human cells. Nobody has ever died from cannabis overdose. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and Tobacco. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!

  • meh

    Really? No one mentions the fact that the article missed the most obvious point which was that if he was a Shaman, it was probably more for spiritual, than “recreational” use?

  • yes

    still would smoke it

  • BabbaZee

    hysterical comments!

  • Joel holguin

    In what perpos woud U need to smoke the canibis if I woud say that in the after life it’s glory right????

  • Pedro

    So you’re telling me something I put into my body has a chance of staying there for 2700 years? Don’t know if that’s good or bad.

  • mentorlog

    Extra kick…

  • Adam

    Why was there a white guy in Mongolia 2700 years ago? Why would a white guy be a shaman? Also why did someone call the gobi desert an excellent place For growing conditions. How did a man with blue eyes and two pounds of weed end up in the gobi desert 2700 years ago, was bill and ted’s excellent adventure based on a true story?

  • Adam

    Also gives new light to a burning bush giving commands

  • becky

    why am I still reading all these comments?

  • SaTiva Mary Jane Cabinus

    In January of this year, archaeologists using genetic testing have proven that Caucasians roamed China’s Tarim Basin 1,000 years before East Asian people arrived. Those Nordic people walked everywhere while high on weed. Adam, I like the Bill & Ted theory though. LOL

  • MPK

    If he was Caucasian and from Central Asia during that period he was probably a Scythian. Look them up, their civilization is well documented and it’s known from historical records that they had a shamanistic religion that centered around pot as a way to induce religious experiences. Don’t romanticize such a chill sounding religion though, contrary to what you might think of a belief system like that it also involved bloody and cruel human sacrifices.

  • Bryan

    I think this is very interesting, Shamans to my understanding were looked to for a lot of the peoples needs, and to find evidence that they may have used cannabis for a positive purpose shows that it has some real potential use in todays society… geet ready for it.. Legalize!

  • Julia


  • joe

    MPK and SaTiva Mary Jane Cabinus are right…. there were nordic “white” people roaming western china before long before the chinese even got there

  • atomheartmoth

    The šaman had red eyes, not blue

  • Ryan

    Fortunately, I don’t think anyone would even try to smoke something that old… hahaha

  • Bigdaddyclam

    2700 years from now they can find my stash lol

  • Trey Player

    Even 2700 years ago they recognized the medicinal properties of the plant…Amazing!

  • Jim_sueorsak

    hmmm wonder if they pout it alllll back for it is suppose to be personnel property!

  • Sherm-Loc

    Bruce dntknow wat he’s tlkn about

  • Anonymous

    Not hard to understand that this was a stoner. Hidden his stash this good lol, Sure that he used all his life trying to find hes 2 pound of ganja. lol
    He was streetsmart hiding it for 2700 years lol

  • BobMcKensie

    So if i have this correct…

    They smuggled marijuana into England?
    From China?
    From a Red Haired, Blue Eyed Asian guy?!
    Drug mules are changing their tactics all the time.

  • boogababy

    haha, it was found next to his hed huh…easy access. You know he was buried with his stash f@ck all the medicine crap. The flowers are missing cuz he’s been hitting that chit up in the tomb. He’s gonna come after those nerds who stole his chit.I know I would!!!

  • Ashewaserin

    Used it for medicinal and recreational purposes. Really?! No! When I say this, I assumed they used it as a, currency. 

  • Penisface

    i’d still wanna smoke it even if it didnt get you high!

  • Jesjames74

    any seeds that can be replanted

  • Smokemoar McTokemoar

    Just because I can’t smoke it doesn’t mean I won’t fucking try.

  • Tigerweedz

    If Anslinger hadn’t lost all his authority when alcohol prohibition was repealed & picked cannabis as a replacement target people wouldn’t be surprised that such an industrialy usefull, Spiritualy balancing plant was prevelant with the ancients.

  • Anonymous

    I write about this discovery in my book, “Marijuana Gateway to Health.” Every day it seems that more information is coming through that indicates that using marijuana is health-positive behavior. the cannabinoids found only in marijuana have powerful anti-cancer and brain protective effects. Find out what the government doesn’t want you to know about marijuana, read “Marijuana Gateway to Health.”


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