Home Marijuana Shemshemet: Hashish in Historical Egypt | Hashish Tradition

Shemshemet: Hashish in Historical Egypt | Hashish Tradition


CANNABIS CULTURE – Up till latest occasions, many Egyptologists, didn’t acknowledge a lot of a job for hashish in historical Egypt past that of a supply of fiber for ropes, however latest analysis figuring out a plant within the Egyptian texts with fibrous and medicinal properties, in addition to edible seeds, beneath the identify shemshemet, or sm-sm-t, at the moment are typically thought to be figuring out hashish.

Excerpted from Cannabis and the Soma Solution.

In historical Egypt the therapeutic herb shemshemet was believed to have been a creation of the Solar God Ra. Apart from this linguistic supply, pollen evaluation of historical soil layers and deep tissue samples from Egyptian mummies, have indicated that in Egypt, like a lot of the remainder of the traditional world, hashish held an essential function.

In truth from about round 3000 BC onward there’s proof of hashish pollen in Egypt.  In line with the Codex of Historical Egyptian Plant Stays, (1997) pollen has been recognized at Egyptian websites relationship from the Predynastic interval (c.3500-3100 BCE); the 12th Dynasty (c.1991-1786 BCE) contains not solely pollen, but additionally a hemp “fibre (ball)”; from the 19th Dynasty (c.1293-1185 BCE) discovered on the Mummy of Ramses II; and the Ptolemaic interval (323-30 BCE) (Vartavan & Asensi, 1997).


shemshemet the Egyptian phrase for hashish

There may be common settlement with the view of Dawson (1934a) that shemshemet means hashish, and the identification was strongly supported by way of hempen rope making. As a drug, it has remained in lively use since pharaonic occasions. It… was administered by mouth, rectum, vagina, bandaged the pores and skin, utilized to the eyes, and by fumigation. Nonetheless, these functions present no clear proof of consciousness of the results of hashish on the central nervous system. (Nunn, 2002)

Though most fashionable Egyptologists acknowledge a job for hashish as a supply of fiber and as a medication, few see a job for hemp as a ritual intoxicant, and plenty of researchers declare that the Egyptians have been unaware of those properties. As famous in The Mummy Congress:

Beneath the reign of the pharaohs, Egyptian merchants had bartered avidly for seeds of Hashish sativa. Their Asian neighbors prized the plant for its hempen fibers, and the Egyptians appear to have taken an analogous curiosity. They retted the stems and twisted the fibers into sturdy ropes and floor the plant to make a soothing eyewash, a therapy they recorded within the medical papyri. However the Egyptians made little point out of the opposite components of C. sativa—the flowering tops and leaves that yielded marijuana or the darkish resin that produces cannabis. (Pringle, 2001)

Prof. Jan Kabelik famous of shemsemet; “From the Egyptian medical papyruses, data has been gained a few plant from which cordage could possibly be made, and it was in all probability hashish which was referred to”:

However no data could possibly be discovered on its narcotic motion. The preparations constituted of it (possibly from the hashish shoots) have been utilized externally-namely, completely as antiseptics – after which even perhaps as analgetics, in the identical means as in Hellenic medication. Hashish extracts have been employed for irrigation in illnesses of the anus, and in type of compresses the drug has been utilized to sore toenails. In Rhamses’ papyrus, washing sore eyes with extracts from hashish and likewise from another plant is really useful. The papyrus of Berlin recommends fumigation with hashish in some undefined illness. (Kabelik, 1955)

Certainly, one could be laborious pressed to determine narcotic use of hemp beneath the identify shemshemet, however then as we will see, with the Egyptians, as with different cultures, ritual data was secret data, and thus proof of such use doubtless lays in veiled references. Realistically, even medical functions have been imbued with magical and non secular connotations. “…[M]ost physicians in Egypt have been monks… components of faith and magic have been carefully intertwined with drug use, incantations routinely being uttered previous to administration with a purpose to confer the therapeutic property upon it” (Spencer, 2000). Just like the temple gardens of the Assyrians, the place the ‘tree of life’ was reputed to develop, the Egyptians additionally doubtless cultivated shemshemet and different sacred crops:

Contemplating the Egyptians’ extremely developed pharmacopeia they should have had ‘physics gardens’, almost definitely in reference to a temple, for it was among the many monks that data of the medicinal properties of crops was concentrated. (Manniche, 1989)

Egyptian medical texts that embody references to hashish embody The Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC), Eber’s Papyrus (1600 BC), The Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC), The Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1300 BC). Presumably because of the sticky and adhesive high quality of honey a variety of Egyptian topical medical preparations required it as an admixture to hashish primarily based medicines. In line with the traditional papyri such topical hashish preparations have been used to deal with inflammations of the vagina, and to deal with ingrown toe and finger nails (Ghalioungui 1963). Egyptian medical functions of hashish present an astute data of the efficacy of natural cures, and nearly all of their cures containing it put it to use in a means by which hashish has been identified to be medically efficient (Russo, 2006/2007).

Ìf the hieroglyph ‘smsm.t’ within the historical medical papyri of Egypt signifies hashish, it was used as an incense, as an oral treatment for ‘moms and youngsters’, (in childbirth?), in enemas, in eye drugs, and as an ointment in bandages. This can be its first point out in world literature as a watch treatment. (Mathre, 1997)

The reference to eye medication recognized by Mathre, happens within the Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC), and is assumed to happen in a prescription for the therapy of glaucoma, and has been translated as „Ein Heilmittel für die Augen:“A therapy for the eyes: celery; shemshemet [cannabis]is floor and left within the dew in a single day. Each eyes of the affected person are to be washed with it within the morning.”

Fragments of the the Ramesseum III papyrus

Though the present copy of the Eber’s Papyrus is dated at about 1600 BC, making it the oldest identified full medical textbook, many students imagine that it’s copied from an excellent older textual content relationship roughly 3100 BC. The Eber’s Papyrus refers to “A remedy for the uterus to chill: Hanf wird in Honig zerstoßen und in die Vagina gefüllt.Hemp [shemshemet]is crushed in honey and stuffed into the vagina. Dies verursacht eine Kontraktion des Uterus.“This causes a contraction of the uterus.” The Ebers Papyrus additionally refers to a topical utility of hashish for ingrown toe or finger nails and combined with carob to be used in an enema or mixed with different cures and used as a poultice. The Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC) data a topical therapy for swelling: “A treatment to deal with irritation: “Blätter (oder Blüten?) des Hanfs und reines Öl.Leaves of hemp and pure oil. Gebrauch es als Salbe.” Use it as an ointment.”

The Ebers Papyrus (1550 BC) identifies hashish in an enema infusion and as a topical poultice for an infection. For extra on hashish medication in historical Egypt see the Antique Cannabis Book.

Within the second millennium BC hemp fiber was used for ropes, however the time period shemshemet happens as early as within the Pyramid Texts, written down a thousand years previous to that, once more in reference to rope making. “Items of hemp have been recognized on the tomb of Amenhopis IV (Ahkenaten) at el-Armana” (Manniche, 1989). As with the ritual use of fibers related to Haoma/Soma and the Assyrian Tree of Life, it’s fascinating to notice that right here in Egypt, shemshemet was thought of a sacred fiber and was referred to within the context as a method of bridging the hole between heaven and earth.

A Rope Ladder to the Heavens

Within the pyramid textual content of Unas, which appears to concern the king’s ascension into the heavens by way of the northern passageway of his pyramid, hemp ropes appear to be the means for climbing into the starry sky. Within the historical inscription, the devotee is commanded to say the next phrases in reward of Unas a celestial Bull, who’s the information of the useless to the heavens:

This Unas is the bull of double brilliance within the midst of his Eye. Secure is the mouth of Unas by way of the fiery breath, the top of Unas by way of the horns of the lord of the South. Unas leads the god…  Unas has twisted the SmSm.t-plant into ropes. Unas has united (zmA) the heavens…

Or as Budge interprets it: “He raises up the cords (fibres?) of the shemshemet plant, he unites the heavens” (Budge, 1911). An identical indication relating to hemp ropes could also be discovered within the mythology of the Goddess Seshat, who seems to be holding a rope and a stalk within the beneath depiction. Extra fascinating is the picture that seems above the top of the traditional Goddess.

Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of writing and measurement, probably holding a hemp rope to the heavens, a hashish stalk for measuring, and with a hashish leaf above her head?

Quite a few completely different researchers have famous the similarity between a hashish leaf and the image hooked up to the top of the Goddess Seshat in Egyptian photos. Seshat was the Egyptian Goddess of temple structure and mistress of scribes, presiding over the “Home of Life,” often known as the “Home of Books.” This temple was a kind of library and faculty of data, and served as a retailer place of texts relating to custom and rituals. Since very early Egyptian occasions, Seshat’s primary operate was to help the king in “stretching the wire” for the format of temples and royal buildings.

Writer and researcher H. Peter Aleff has put forth an intriguing principle that this image is related to the usage of hemp cords. “It was… according to the traditional Egyptian visible canon that the artists who portrayed Seshat the rope-stretching goddess of measuring and geometry would have labeled her with  footage of her principal instruments, or with simply recognizable symbols for these. Certainly, they mixed evocations of those instruments ingeniously in her emblem”:

Many Egyptologists have lengthy speculated concerning the emblem which Seshat wore as her head gown.  Sir Alan Gardiner described it in his nonetheless category-leading “Egyptian Grammar” as a “conventionalized flower (?) surmounted by horns.”   His query mark after “flower” displays the truth that there is no such thing as a doubtless flower which resembles this design.  Others have known as it a “star surmounted by a bow,” however stars within the historical Egyptian conference had 5 factors, not seven just like the one in Seshat’s emblem.  This quantity was so essential that it induced king Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 BCE) to present her the identify Sefkhet-Abwy, or “She of the seven factors.”

There isn’t a want for such groping speculations as a result of the assorted components in Seshat’s emblem merely depict the instruments of her geometer’s commerce within the hieroglyphic method.

Her seven-pointed “flower” or “star” is an correct picture of a hemp leaf.  This leaf is made up of seven pointed leaf components which are organized in the identical sample as essentially the most distinguished register Seshat’s emblem.  Hemp is, and has lengthy been, a wonderful materials for making ropes with the low-stretch high quality required for measuring cords, significantly when these are greased to scale back variations of their moisture content material which might affect elongation.   

The attribute leaf of the plant utilized in making these ropes was thus a logical selection for the symbol designer who wished an simply acknowledged reference to Seshat’s job.  This leaf is so distinctive that its image permits no confusion with different gadgets…. the hemp leaf in Seshat’s emblem is unmistakable proof that the traditional Egyptian rope- stretchers used hemp for his or her measuring cords, and that Seshat can not deny her now unlawful patronage and possession of this psycho-active plant.

Add to this flagrant proof that in Coffin Texts Spell 10, “Seshat opens the door of heaven for you” (7), and the case in opposition to her is strong sufficient to get her busted if she nonetheless plied her commerce at this time. (Aleff, 1982/2008).

Each the references within the account of Unas the Bull, and that of Seshat might symbolically point out hemp as a method of reaching the heavens. In relation it’s fascinating to notice that Catherine Graindorge mentions hashish in a funerary providing: “some Theban tombs point out an providing of… crops to the deceased… [including]smsmt [shemsemet, cannabis]… In line with the tomb of Neferhotep… the smsmt-plant was created by Re” (Graindorge, 1992). Sadly it’s unclear as to what the character of this providing was (fiber?, meals?, incense?, Beverage?), however apparently it occurred throughout “sure actions involved with personal funerary worship”, the place “the monks of the ka, or the household of the Theban deceased, make libations and fumigations within the chapel of the tombs” (Graindorge, 1992). A state of affairs which actually brings to thoughts the Scythian Funerary rites and fumigations with burning hemp referred to earlier.

Proof of Entheogenic Use of Hemp in Historical Egypt?

Not all Egyptologists agree with the view that the traditional Egyptians have been unaware of hemp’s probably potent narcotic results, a property of the plant extremely esteemed by lots of the cultures with whom the Egyptians traded. As Rosalie David, Keeper of Egyptology, for the Manchester Museum, has famous, the Egyptians are identified to have used quite a lot of psychoactive substances:

The lotus was a really highly effective narcotic which was utilized in historical Egypt and presumably, was widespread on this use, as a result of we see many scenes of people holding a cup and dropping a lotus flower into the cup which contained wine, and this may be a means of releasing the narcotic.

The traditional Egyptians actually used medicine. In addition to lotus they’d mandrake and hashish, and there’s a robust suggestion the additionally used opium…. [these]components have been actually in use. (David, 1996)

Contemplating that the Egyptians traded with cultures that used hashish for its intoxicating properties, it’s laborious to just accept that these significantly superior herbalists, who had clear data of hashish’ medical results, in some way failed to acknowledge the provocative state which could possibly be produced from burning or ingesting the plant, a top quality extremely prized by their buying and selling companions.

On this writer’s view there are a selection of indications of the usage of hashish for entheogenic use that may be inferred from the accrued data of historical Egyptian lore.  Potential sources for this kind of use of hashish embody the Kyphi incense and fragrance, the drink Nepenthe, the ‘Sacred Shrub’ and the Maat Plant.

I’ve mentioned the mythical infused wine for grief, Nepenthe, at length in another article, and as famous there, a hashish infusion has been largely advised from the proof and outline offered.

Kyphi, the Scent ‘Welcome to the Gods’

Providing Incense

Some sources have advised that hashish was an ingredient within the historical incense and fragrance of the Pharaohs, generally known as kyphi.  Kyphi was used as an providing to the Gods. Because the solar set, Egyptian worshippers would burn this aromatic thoughts altering preparation to the Solar God RA (who created hashish) praying for his return the next morning. Indicating the medical qualities of it’s substances, Kyphi was utilized on the pores and skin to heal wounds. It was additionally thought of to be a potent relaxant and an aphrodisiac. In contrast to the ointments of the Assyrians, the Kyphi was a quite strong and wax like concoction. A cone of kyphi was positioned on the highest of the top, and because the scorching Egyptian Solar and physique temperature of the devotee warmed it, the potent substances of the preparation would slowly soften and drip down off the top and onto the physique.

Researchers have advised greater than 50 pure substances for making the Kyphi, the preferred in all probability being: Aloeswood, Benzoin, Hashish Resin, Cardamom Seeds, Cassia, Cedar, Cinnamon, Copal, Frankincense, Galangal Root, Ginger, Honey, Juniper, Lemongrass, Mastic, Mint, Myrrh, Orris, Pistachio, Raisins, Crimson Wine, Rose Petals, Saffron, Sandalwood, Storax Balsam. Archeologist Joel Zias, who has discovered proof of the usage of psychoactive substances at websites of historical Close to Jap cultures, notes that “the Egyptians wrote lots about medication nevertheless the formulation is all the time  a little bit of this a little bit of that and many others., subsequently one can by no means know the precise technique of replicating it. Hash was quite common as was opium” (Zias, 2005).

Writing in 1920, the Occultist Oliver Bland, after naming lots of the advised substances of the Kyphi and demonstrating some data of its preparation, put forth the next unverified, however fascinating, etymological suggestion:

The clue to the key of the traditional incense lies not in what we have now been in a position to get better from the papayri, however within the phrase itself. Kyphi is recognizable to-day in “keef,” the favored identify for the smokeable number of the herb Hashish Indica or Indian Hemp.

Hashish Indica is none apart from our buddy cannabis…. It’s not in spite of everything, a far cry from the mysteries of Osiris, in Egypt…. Osiris… “died” yearly, and mimicry of the symbolic occasion was the premise of all ritual. Within the mysteries the provoke “died,” too: however the loss of life was no mere formulation, however an really induced state of stupor or deep trance caused by the fumes of keef. (Bland, 1920)

This was a view shared by the occultist Aleister Crowley, who lamented that his magick powers might have been lessened by lack of cannabis, using the name Kyfi in this context.

Bowls of incense being supplied to an Egyptian god.

Extra lately, a European information story reported on the efforts of a well-known fragrance firm to recreate the Historical Kyphi: Ananova, Monday, 7th October, 2002, ‘Scientists recreate the fragrance of the pharaohs.

Scientists in France say they’ve recreated the fragrance of the pharaohs which they imagine was utilized by the traditional Egyptians to spice up their love-lives.

However because the substances of Kyphi fragrance, mentioned to be an aphrodisiac which helps wearers chill out, embody hashish it can’t be commercially produced.

Specialists from L’Oreal and C2RMF, the Centre for Analysis and Restoration of French Museums, succeeded in recreating the legendary Kyphi fragrance.

French researcher Sandrine Videault, who for years had tried to recreate the aroma, was lastly in a position to take action with the assistance of Greek historiographer Plutarch.

The Greek author had written that Kyphi had the ability “to ship somebody to sleep, to assist them have candy desires, to chill out them, to drive away the troubles of the day and to convey peace.”

The quite a few substances embody pistachios, mint, cinnamon, incense, juniper and myrrh.

Videault says all earlier makes an attempt to make use of traces of the fragrance present in Egyptian museums had failed as a result of not sufficient was offered for evaluation.

The skilled says the recreation of the aroma is an extended course of as a result of there are various completely different recipes for it: “In some samples solely ten substances are used, in others as much as 50,” she mentioned.

In line with written paperwork, the fragrance, which got here in block type and in contrast to modern-day scents was not alcohol primarily based, was worn by historical Egyptians of their hair and in intimate locations to spice up their intercourse lives.

However Videault mentioned: “Kyphi won’t ever be bought as a result of a number of the substances are unlawful substances. In any case the scent might be a lot too pungent for the fashionable world.”

The Maat Plant

One other doable supply of Egyptian use of hashish could also be indicated in inscriptions relating to the Maat Plant, depicted within the decrease components of the next stele being tended by devotees and eyed by a ready harvester with the normal Scythian hemp harvesting device the Scythe in hand. Usually this stele has been interpreted as figuring out the actions of the useless within the after-world, however usually such myths have been acted out by devotees on the fabric airplane, so indications of some kind of sacred ceremony involving earthly choices of the Maat Plant can’t be simply dismissed.

Egyptian Stela with the Soma like Maat Plant

The Egyptians related the Maat plant with Osiris, as we see right here from the scenes and texts that are right here reproduced from the alabaster coffin of Seti I… Within the center register we see the depraved tied to the jackal headed requirements… Within the register beneath we see figures of males engaged in tending a plant… and one determine has a scythe, which signifies he was the reaper of the plant. Within the register above we some males carrying on their heads a loaf, and others a feather, symbolic of Maat, the goddess of Reality. The previous group of beings (Second Register) are the blessed whose ‘Kau (i.e. tendencies) have been washed clear,’ and who’ve been chosen by Osiris to stay with him in the home of ‘holy souls’. The latter group of beings (Third Register) are the ‘labourers within the wheat area of the Tuat’ (i.e. Different World), and the crops they tended and reaped are mentioned to be ‘the members of Osiris’. The plant was Osiris, and Osiris was the plant, and the blessed in consuming ‘the bread of everlastingness’ which was constituted of the grain of the plant ate Osiris. However Osiris was Maat, i.e. Reality, subsequently in consuming the bread they ate Reality. In consuming his physique they grew to become one with him and subsequently everlasting… (Budge, 1925)

Curiously, Budge interpreted the plant picture within the decrease a part of the Egyptian stele as a “colossal ear of wheat.” Extra doubtless it represents another plant, one which was harvested with the Scythian device the Scythe, one which held divine properties and an affiliation with immortality in addition to rites for the useless. In relation to this depiction and the suggestion that the Maat plant was ready into some kind of sacramental loaf, the physique of the lord Osiris, you will need to word that in Persia hashish was additionally identified by the identify Sahdanag – Royal Grain; or King’s Grain, and was ready in a variety of confections (Low, 1926).

Within the account of the Maat Plant and its affiliation with the useless, one is once more reminded of the function of hashish in Scythian funerary rites, as does the Eucharistic components involving it invoke the mythology of the Soma and Haoma, the unique Eucharistic sacrament. It must also be famous that Maat’s image was a inexperienced feather, and this symbolism has additionally been used to determine the Soma. “In RV X.89.5 the Soma is named simivat. Within the context it must be translated as feathered, actually it means ‘like simi or sami’… The pinnate leaves of the sami… appear like a feather…The feather in relation to the Soma-Plant is talked about in RV IV.27.4” (Richter-Ushanas, 1997). That the spears of a hashish leaf appear like a feather is also mentioned. As Homer Smith famous in Man and his Gods:

Those that lived by the legal guidelines of Maat took a sacramental drink, similar to the Hindus’ Soma or its Persian counterpart Haoma, which conferred ritual purity… Egyptian scribes writing within the third millenium B.C. wrote: “My inward components have been washed within the liquor of Maat.” (Smith, 1952)

Curiously within the 4th century AD the alchemist Zosimos would write about the usage of hashish, darnel and different crops as infusions in Egyptian beers and wines. Nonetheless it’s unclear how lengthy this observe was in place. Nonetheless lately Archeologists have uncovered a 5,000 year old brewery in Egypt, and maybe evaluation of the remnants will reveal what types of substances have been in use then. Lately researcher Brian Muraresku has been elevating some fascinating dialogue about probably entheogenic beers within the historical world along with his finest promoting tome The Immortality Key.

In line with fantasy the God Osiris taught humanity the artwork of brewing. Curiously there’s an unidentified historical entheogen named after this god ‘Osiritis’.


Osiritis was often known as ‘cynocephalia’ and third century AD Egyptian Gnostic texts describe it being put  into the mouths of contributors in a magic ritual.  Pliny mentions this similar plant for divination. Pliny claims to have heard from Apion the Grammarian, infamous resident of Egypt, “that the plant cynocephalia,  identified in Egypt as “osiritis,” is helpful for divination, and is a preservative in opposition to all of the malpractices of magic, however that if an individual takes it out of the bottom total, he’ll die upon the spot. He asserts, additionally, that he himself had raised the spirits of the useless”. The reference to loss of life in case you pull the plant entire out of the bottom, is harking back to the mythology of mandrake, which can also be psychoactive and has been utilized in magic rituals.

Drug Testing Mummies

Indicating that Egypt was a depot of the traditional Silk Street, is the “latest discovery of a strand of silk within the hair of an Egyptian mummy, which a mixture of infrared and chemical evaluation strongly suggests got here from China. If appropriate which means Chinese language silk reached the japanese Mediterranean round 1000 B.C., centuries earlier than the normal date” (Allsen, 1997). Current archeology has confirmed that hashish, opium and different medicine travelled these similar commerce routes.

Different analysis has opened up the chance that historical commerce routes weren’t solely older, however significantly wider than has been historically thought. The outcomes from checks on hairs of Egyptian mummies relationship again so far as 1000 B.C. confirmed optimistic outcomes for not solely copious use of hashish, however, opening up a scorching mattress of controversy, proof interpreted as indicating the usage of New World Crops Coca and Tobacco as properly!

Analysis by German scientist, Dr Svetla Balabanova within the early 1990’s has continued to baffle Egyptologists, and name into query entire areas of science, archeology, chemistry and botany, in addition to present drug testing methods. In 1992 researchers in Munich, who have been utilizing the most recent scientific methods on mummified stays with a purpose to perceive extra concerning the lives of historical Egyptians, determined to check for proof of historical drug use.  On this quest they turned to revered toxicologist Dr Svelta Balabanova, who had developed groundbreaking strategies for the detection of medication in hair and sweat.

Dr Svetla Balabanova

As a way to be sure that the checks on the mummies have been past reproach, Balabanova used the supposedly dependable and commonplace hair shaft take a look at. Medication and different substances consumed by people make their means into the hair protein, the place they keep for months, even after loss of life. To make sure there is no such thing as a contamination hair samples are washed in alcohol and the washing answer itself is then examined. If the testing answer is evident, however the hair checks optimistic, then the drug have to be contained in the hair shaft, which implies the individual consumed the substance throughout their lifetime. The hair shaft take a look at is taken into account proof optimistic in opposition to contamination earlier than or after loss of life. As British toxicologist Dr. John Henry has famous: “The hair shaft take a look at is accepted. If you recognize that you just’ve taken your hair pattern from this particular person and the hair shaft is thought to comprise a drug, then it’s proof optimistic that the individual has taken that drug. So it’s accepted in legislation. It’s put individuals into jail” (Henry, 1996).

As a toxicologist and endocrinologist on the Institute of Forensic Medication, in Ulm Germany, Balabanova, who additionally labored carefully with the German Police, was greater than aware of postmortem methods. Samples from the mummies have been taken by Balabanova, pulverized and dissolved into an answer. As with the nonetheless commonplace drug testing method, she used antibodies to detect the presence of medication and different properties. As a backup the samples have been additionally put by way of the GCMS machine which might precisely determine substances by figuring out their molecular weight. The surprising outcomes of each checks, which Balabanova in disbelief ordered to be redone a variety of occasions, have embroiled the German researcher in a scorching mattress of controversy for over a decade.

Though Balabanova was not significantly stunned on the proof of THC, the lively chemical of the Outdated World plant hashish, outcomes indicating new world crops comparable to Coca, and Tobacco despatched the researcher reeling. “The primary optimistic outcomes, after all, have been a shock for me. I had not anticipated to seek out nicotine and cocaine however that’s what occurred. I used to be completely certain it have to be a mistake” (Balabanova, 1996). After repeating the checks and later publishing the outcomes, Balabanova discovered herself in a hotbed of controversy that has adopted her profession ever since.

That is the primary research which exhibits the presence of cocaine, cannabis and nicotine in Egyptian mummies, relationship again to about 1000 BC. Because of this these three natural substances are able to surviving in hair, delicate tissue and bones for ca. 3000 years beneath favorable situations. Nonetheless, it can’t be decided at current whether or not the concentrations measured symbolize the unique quantity of those medicine throughout life or instantly after loss of life, or what sort of decomposition may need taken place prior to now 3000 years. (Balabanova et al. 1992)

Not surprisingly educational criticisms poured in from all quarters. As Balabanova described, “I received a pile of letters that have been virtually threatening, insulting letters saying it was nonsense, that I used to be fantasizing, that it was unimaginable, as a result of it was confirmed that earlier than Columbus these crops weren’t discovered wherever on the planet exterior of the Americas” (Balabanova, 1996).

The presence of cannabinoids within the tissues of Egyptian mummies brings up the chance that Hashish was used recreationally/religiously or medicinally by the early Egyptians. Nonetheless, many of the controversy facilities across the experiences of cocaine and nicotine contents in these Egyptian mummies predating Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World. The plant genera Erythroxylum (the only supply of cocaine) and Nicotiana (the only supply of nicotine) are each thought of to have solely a New World distribution previous to European contact through the fifteenth century, a lot later than the dates (ca. 3000 BP) of the mummies analyzed by Balabanova et al. (1992). These outcomes are so uncommon that they solid some doubt over the cannabinoid findings as properly. (Clarke & Fleming, 1998)

Representing the view of the overwhelming majority of Historians, Prof. John Bains an Egyptologist with Oxford College, commented on the speculations that have been rising across the findings of Balabanova. “The concept that the Egyptians have been travelling to America is, general, absurd. I don’t know of anybody who’s professionally employed as an Egyptologist, anthropologist or archeaologist who significantly believes in any of those potentialities, and I additionally don’t know anybody who spends time doing analysis into these areas as a result of they’re perceived to be areas with none actual which means for the topics” (Bains, 1996).

“In inspecting the mummified physique of Ramses II, Dr. Lescot was given samples of the fragments discovered caught throughout the fibers of the mum’s bandages. After analyzing the fragments, she discovered that they have been really fragments of crops. When she studied the pattern beneath a microscope, she made a shocking discovery – the fragments have been from a tobacco plant.
Traces of what was supposedly a New World plant have been discovered on an historical mummy from the Outdated World. This led some individuals to ask how the deceased physique of a 3000-year-old Egyptian ruler managed to come up with fragments of a tobacco plant when mainstream historical past insists that there was no means that historical Egypt had established transoceanic commerce relations with the individuals within the Americas throughout that point. In brief, how on earth did Ramses II get his fingers on some tobacco?” (Chen, 2017)

Though, just like the taboo topic of medication within the historical world, a minority of researchers comparable to Prof. Alice Kehoe, of Marquette College appear extra open to the potential for pre-Columbian transatlantic commerce. “I believe there’s good proof that there was each trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific journey earlier than Columbus. After we attempt to discuss trans-oceanic contact, individuals which are commonplace archeologists get very… skittish, they usually wish to change the topic… They appear to really feel that it’s some form of contagious illness they don’t wish to contact, or it can convey catastrophe to them” (Kehoe, 1996). It must be famous that previous to the invention of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland in 1965, the theories about Viking voyages to America have been likewise dismissed as fantastical nonsense.

Because the makers of the sensational TVF documentary The Cocaine Mummies commented “If the cocaine present in mummies couldn’t be defined by contamination or faux mummies or by Egyptian crops containing it, there gave the impression to be just one remaining chance… A world drug commerce whose hyperlinks prolonged all the best way to the Americas.”

On the heart of an surprising controversy that threatened her skilled fame, Balabanova combed the historic file to see if every other researchers had ever recorded related outcomes. She was inspired to seek out potential corroboration in a narrative a few scientific crew attempting to salvage the badly deteriorating physique of Ramses II in 1976. The bandages with which Ramses II was wrapped with wanted changing and botanists got items of the material to research what they have been constituted of with a purpose to change them. One researcher, Dr. Michelle Scott discovered some plant fragments in her piece, and on nearer evaluation she detected the tiny crystals and filaments which have been the unmistakable indications of a plant that ought to clearly not have been there.

I ready the slides, put them beneath the microscope and what did I see? Tobacco. I mentioned to myself, that’s simply not doable – I have to be dreaming. The Egyptians didn’t have tobacco. It was introduced from South America on the time of Christopher Columbus. I appeared once more, and I attempted to get a greater view and I believed, properly, it’s solely a primary evaluation. I labored feverishly and I forgot to have lunch that day. However I stored getting the identical outcome. (Scott, 1996)

Inserting herself in a storm of controversy an identical to that by which Balabanova would discover herself in, Dr. Michelle Scott discovered little help for her findings. Most researchers noticed the tobacco discover as a transparent case of contamination. Certainly, the reason of Prof. Nasri Iskander, Chief Currator of the Cairo Museum appears greater than believable: “In line with my data and expertise, many of the archeologists and scientists, who labored on these fields, smoked pipes. And I personally have been smoking pipes for greater than 25 years. Then possibly a chunk of the tobacco dropped by haphazard or simply anyway and to inform that is proper or incorrect we have now to be extra cautious” (Iskander, 1996).

Because the controversy round Balabanova’s outcomes continued to brew, the unique researchers who requested that she take a look at the mummies distanced themselves from her. As Dr Alfred Grimm, Curator, The Egyptian Museum, Munich, from the place the mummies got here commented “It’s not completely confirmed and I believe it’s not completely scientifically appropriate” (Grimm, 1996). After attempting to realize entry to the mummies, the makers of The Cocaine Mummies concluded that “it appeared that the museum wished nothing extra to do with the analysis they politely identified was removed from respectable.”

Because of the controversy, even researchers from different Museums have been barred from additional examination of the mummies, comparable to Rosalie David, the Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum. David, who was fully skeptical of the outcomes turned in by Balabanova, unable to accumulate take a look at materials from the identical material as Balabanova, because of the reluctance of her Munich colleagues, determined to check completely different mummies and was herself astounded when the take a look at materials got here in: “We’ve acquired outcomes again from the checks on our mummy tissue samples and two of the samples and the one hair pattern each have proof of nicotine in them. I’m actually very stunned at this” (David, 1996).

Outcomes that have been greater than welcome by Balabanova “The outcomes of the checks on the Manchester mummies have made me very completely happy in spite of everything these years of being accused of false outcomes and contaminated outcomes, so I used to be delighted to listen to nicotine had been present in these mummies, and really, very completely happy to have this huge affirmation of my work” (Balabanva, 1996).

Within the 1994 paper, Presence of drugs in different tissues of an Egyptian mummy, Franz Parsche and Andreas Nerlich got here to virtually an identical biochemical conclusions as Balabanova by way of deep tissue, bone and inside examination of a mummy that was dated at roughly 950 B.C.. Utilizing the methods of fuel chromatography/mass spectrometry, these researchers reported that “vital quantities of varied medicine have been detected in inside organs (lung, liver, abdomen, intestines) in addition to in hair, bone, pores and skin/muscle and tendon. These analyses revealed a major deposition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nicotine (and its metabolite cotinine) and cocaine within the tissue from the mum….” (Parsche and Nerlich, 1994).

The key discovering was that the medicine (and a few of their metabolites) may clearly be recognized within the tissue samples analyzed, indicating that these substances are secure over an unexpectedly lengthy time period… we noticed that vital quantities of varied medicine have been current in a number of completely different tissues. Though absolutely the values of the drug concentrations might present appreciable interbatch variation specifically when examined by the immunoassay system, the intrabatch evaluation, as on this research, displays appropriate relative proportions. Thus, our evaluation of the concentrations of varied medicine in numerous mummy tissues sheds some mild on historic therapeutic measures… the proof for the nicotine metabolite cotinine, which was… discovered within the current materials, argues in favour of an intravital consumption of nicotine (with subsequent metabolization) quite than merely a contamination by nicotine submit mortem. Moreover, these findings are properly in accordance with earlier observations on bone samples from different Egyptian mummies… The commentary of great concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol which represents the psychoactive substance of medication as in cannabis within the lungs with values above these of the opposite inside organs, argue for a preferential incorporation of this substance by inhalation. That is in accordance with the experiences by medical papyri indicating smoking ceremonies, e.g. with cannabis. The buildup of THC in pores and skin/muscle tissue could also be on account of contamination through the postmortal embalming process. The way in which of cocaine and nicotine consumption which has remained unclear till now might have been uncovered by the evaluation of this “case”: Since these drug concentrations have been discovered to be highest within the abdomen and the gut, this commentary factors to an oral ingestion of those substances. (Parsche and Nerlich, 1994)

Parsche and Nerlich findings of robust concentrations of THC within the lungs of the Mummy match properly with the view that the favored Egyptian fragrance and incense, kyphi, contained hashish. Likewise, the “accumulation of THC in pores and skin/muscle tissue” which the authors suspect was “on account of contamination through the postmortal embalming process,” ties in with the concept hashish was utilized in Egyptian funerary rites, as mentioned earlier.

In relation to the finds of nicotine Parsche and Nerlich pointed ou that up to date “analyses on the nicotine content material of varied greens yielded vital quantities of nicotine in some crops apart from the tobacco plant, like aubergines, tomatoes and others”

Moreover, it has lately been proven that in Southern Africa a nicotine containing plant (Nicotiana Africana) happens, which can have been accessible to historical Egyptians. Thus, the usage of these substances as therapeutic medicine might have had a agency place within the previous Egyptian medicals’ repertoire. (Parsche and Nerlich, 1994)

Sandy Knapp, of the herbarium on the Pure Historical past Museum feels that the take a look at outcomes solely determine the household from which tobacco comes, and never the particular plant, pointing to different members of the tobacco household, which existed in historical Egypt, comparable to henbane, mandrake or belladonna. “I believe that they [Balabanova, Parsche, etc.] had a certain quantity of proof, they usually took the proof one step farther than the proof actually allowed them. Typically you’ll be able to solely go thus far down the highway in the direction of telling what one thing is, and then you definitely come in opposition to a wall and you may’t go any farther, in any other case you begin to make one thing up” (Knapp, 1996).

I believe it is extremely unlikely that tobacco has an alternate historical past, as a result of, I believe we’d’ve heard about it. There’d be some use of it current in both literature, temple carvings, someplace there would’ve been proof to level and say ‘Ah, that’s tobacco’, however there’s nothing. (Knapp, 1996)

Balabanova herself entertained the concept of a misplaced species of tobacco, probably even some extinct species of plant. The suggestion {that a} plant may have been harvested into extinction is greater than believable, and we have now the up to date instance of the Egyptian Blue Lotus, prized by the traditional Egyptians for its narcotic properties, which was almost harvested into extinction on account of it’s reputation. As has been famous “many medical crops have develop into extinct by way of overuse. For instance, the demand for silphium, a plant prized for its medicinal and contraceptive properties, was so nice in historical Greece that it was extinct by the  third or fourth century AD” (Peters, et al., 2005).

However even with the suggestion of an alternate supply of nicotine, Balabanova was nonetheless puzzled by the excessive concentrations of the substance present in Egyptian mummies, as a lot as 35 occasions that of the everyday smoker of at this time. Such ranges would have been probably deadly, had tobacco been consumed in such portions in life.

Balabanova felt these excessive doses of nicotine in Egyptian our bodies could possibly be defined if the nicotine containing substance in addition to being consumed in life, had additionally been used within the mummification course of. Excessive ranges of nicotine in tobacco can kill micro organism, and it’s greater than conceivable that some misplaced plant, and even different members of the tobacco household comparable to these advised by Dr. Knapp and others may properly have been a part of the secrets and techniques of embalming that Egyptian monks stored so carefully guarded for over 3000 years of observe.

As properly, regarding the proof of nicotine, the potential for contamination from early pipe smoking archeologists can nonetheless not be dominated out fully. The authors of The Biomarkers Information consult with checks performed by exposing a nicotine free femur from the Bronze-age to environmental publicity to tobacco smoke for a interval of six weeks, analyzing the bones earlier than and after washing. “Surprisingly, the unwashed pattern contained 11.6 ng nicotine per gram of bone, whereas the washed pattern contained 35.5 ng/g… [The researchers] attributed this improve to tobacco smoke deposits being rinsed from the floor into the bone’s inside through the washing step, thus concentrating the nicotine” (Peters, et al., 2005).

It might be good if one may finish with simply the open query of a nicotine containing plant, however as Dr. Svelta Balobanova, nonetheless holding her outcomes as correct lamented: “The cocaine after all stays an open query. It’s a thriller – it’s fully unclear how cocaine may get into Africa. Then again, we all know there have been commerce relationships lengthy earlier than Columbus, and it’s conceivable that the coca plant had been imported into Egypt even then” (Balabanova, 1996). A state of affairs even this broad minded scholar of historical historical past would have a tough time accepting.

A more likely suggestion for the proof of cocaine was famous by the authors of The Biomarkers Information, “Tropane alkaloids which are structurally associated to cocaine are current in henbane, mandrake, and nightshade and will have been altered through the mummification course of right into a cocaine like compound” (Peters, et al., 2005). As Heather Pringle notes in The Mummy Congress:

…[I]n the absence of every other compelling clarification, it now appears doubtless that Balobanova’s findings have been thrown off by situations that few different hair testers should deal with. When Egyptian embalmers smoothed handfuls of spices, oils and plant resins on the flesh of the useless, they anointed the physique and its tresses with a posh chemical cocktail that mummy consultants have but to explain, a lot much less totally perceive. Standard hair checks have been by no means designed to take care of such concoctions, nor have been they meant to take care of an immense, virtually unfathomable span of time. Over centuries and millennia of entombment, compounds in these concoctions may have simply damaged down, yielding substances that might simply cross for cocaine at this time. (Pringle, 2001)

However sadly confounding the state of affairs even additional and fairly calling into query all earlier outcomes, analysis from Balabanova and Parsche, revealed elsewhere, recognized these similar three substances, THC, cocaine, and nicotine in pre-Columbian mummies which dated from about 115 A.D. to 1500 A.D. (Balabanova, Parsche, Pirsig, 1992: 1993). On this case, proof of historically South American crops comparable to tobacco and coca was to be anticipated, however THC, indicating the historically Outdated World plant supply of hashish, opens up the entire can of worms, that the simply mentioned proof of Coca and Tobacco in historical Egypt did. Having researched the topic extensively, I can say there’s nothing dependable in the best way of archaeological or historic proof I’ve seen that helps the place that hashish was accessible in historical Peru. Presumably these checks turned up proof of endocannabinoids naturally produced within the human physique and these have been mistaken for plant cannabinoids because of the deteorization course of.

With such controversial findings by way of supposedly state-of-the-art strategies, it’s laborious to not share the view of Egyptologist John Baines, “it struck me that today there have to be a variety of drug convictions of individuals for possessing substances they’d not the truth is had.” Certainly, it could be shocking if some savvy lawyer didn’t in some unspecified time in the future increase these very points in a courtroom of legislation.

Regardless of these combined outcomes, from the accounts of shemshemet recorded within the historical papyri, we will make certain that the Egyptians used hashish each medicinally and as a fibre. Accounts of Kyphi, Nepenthe and the Maat plant point out that as with their historical world neighbours, the Egyptians additionally doubtless used hashish as a ritual intoxicant, together with different crops. Hopefully with continued archaeology and scientific investigations within the space the final word function of hashish and different entheogens in historical Egypt will in the future be extra totally uncovered from the desert sands.