Unearthing the Pot: The Historical Use of Cannabis in Ancient Civilizations

Unearthing the Pot: The Historical Use of Cannabis in Ancient Civilizations

Unearthing the Pot: The Historical Use of Cannabis in Ancient Civilizations


Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, has been used by humans for various purposes throughout history. From medicinal to spiritual and recreational use, this plant has played a significant role in the development of ancient civilizations. Let’s explore how cannabis was utilized by different ancient cultures and the impact it had on their societies.

The Ancient Egyptians and Cannabis

The use of cannabis by the ancient Egyptians can be traced back to around 2000 BCE. While it is difficult to determine the exact purpose, evidence suggests that cannabis was used for medicinal and religious purposes. Ancient texts mention cannabis being used to treat various ailments, such as inflammation and eye diseases. The plant was also used during religious ceremonies, believed to aid in achieving heightened spiritual experiences.

Learn more about ancient Egyptian civilization:

Khan Academy – Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Chinese and Cannabis

Ancient Chinese civilizations, dating as far back as 4000 BCE, also harnessed the power of cannabis. However, their usage was primarily focused on medicinal purposes. Cannabis was used as a remedy for various ailments, including malaria, constipation, and menstrual disorders. The plant was often brewed into a tea or mixed with other herbs for medicinal concoctions.

Learn more about ancient Chinese civilization:

History.com – Ancient China

The Ancient Indian Subcontinent and Cannabis

In ancient Indian civilizations, cannabis, known as “ganja” or “bhang,” played a substantial role in religious and cultural practices. Cannabis was believed to be a sacred plant associated with the god Shiva, and its consumption was considered a pathway to spiritual awakening. Cannabis was commonly consumed through drinks and edibles during religious ceremonies and festivals.

Learn more about ancient Indian civilization:

Ancient History Encyclopedia – Ancient India

The Greeks and Cannabis

Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations had relatively limited interactions with cannabis compared to other ancient societies. Nevertheless, there is evidence that cannabis was used for medicinal purposes. The renowned Greek physician Hippocrates documented the use of cannabis as an analgesic, or pain-relieving, substance.

Learn more about ancient Greek civilization:

Encyclopedia Britannica – Ancient Greece


Cannabis has a long history of use in various ancient civilizations, from ancient Egypt to China, India, and even Greece. These societies understood and appreciated the benefits of cannabis for medicinal, religious, and cultural purposes. Today, as the world is rediscovering the potential of this ancient plant, it is important to recognize and respect the historical significance cannabis holds in the timeline of human civilization.