CANNABIS has been found amongst other substances on an ancient shrine in Israel.
Two altars at the shrine, dating back to around 750 to 715 BC, have been analysed by archaeologists.
Experts also found evidence of frankincense.
The shrine's altars are made of limestone and the smallest one contained traces of cannabis mixed with animal dung, thought to be for heating purposes.
Archaeologists think the altars were placed at the shrines entrance to the "Holy of Holies" section, said to be the inner sanctuary for God's presence to appear.
Burning cannabis and frankincense in a building like this would likely have filled the air with intoxicating scents as rituals occurred.
The shrine was originally found at Tel Arad in the Beersheba Valley.
It has since been rebuilt at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The researchers explained that the altars had "an important role in the cult practices of the shrine."
They said: "An unidentified black solidified organic material was preserved on the altars' surfaces.
"Past analysis of these materials failed to identify their content and this dark material was recently submitted to organic residue analysis by modern methods."
The recent analysis was able to identify the cannabis mixture and traces of the strong smelling resin frankincense on the large altar.
The frankincense had been mixed with animal fat, supposedly to promote evaporation so its odour would have filled the air inside the shrine.
This research has provided a further insight into the ritual practices of ancient people living in the ancient Biblical kingdom of Judah.
Lead author Eran Arie of The Israel Museum in Jerusalem said: "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."
The ancient Kingdom of Judah was an Iron Age society located near the Dead Sea.
Evidence of frankincense on the shrine is said to indicate the kingdom's participation in South Arabian trade as the resin comes from Arabia.
This study was published in the journal Tel Aviv.
The siege of Jerusalem explained
Here's what you need to know…
- King Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem in 589BC, which led to the desctution of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586BC
- This happened because Zedekiah was chosen to be ruler of Jerusalem for Nebuchadnezzar but revolted against Babylon and chose to form an allaince with the king of Egypt at the time
- Nebuchadnezzar responded by invading Judah and sieging Jerusalem
- The Bible describes this brutal siege in detail
- Zedekiah was blinded, bound, and taken to Babylon as a captive
- Jerusalem was obiterated and what was left of Judah was given to a Jewish man called Gedaliah to govern
In other archaeology news, the origin of an Anglo Saxon brooch that's 1,100-years-old may never be found.
The face of British King Henry VII has been recreated in creepily realistic detail.
And, four 'blank' fragments of the infamous ancient Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed hidden text.
What do you make of this cannabis discovery? Let us know in the comments…
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