Judahite Shrine of Tel Arad from 8th century B.C.E. has residue of cannabis and of frankincense
A study published in Tel Aviv in 2020 reveals that Marijuana residues were found at the shrine of Tel Arad. The residues from two altars were analyzed at two labs, revealing Frankincense and, on one altar, Marijuana mixed with dung. As authors Eran Arie, Baruch Rosen, and Dvory Namdar speculate, the animal dung was probably used to heat hashish (a dried resin of cannabis), enabling its effects to spread among worshippers. They conclude, “This is the first known evidence of hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah.”
Tel Arad was excavated in the 1960’s. As Miriam Aharoni, Ze’ev Herzog, and Anson F. Rainey noted in their 1987 article (“Arad—An Ancient Israelite Fortress with a Temple to Yahweh”, , March/April 1987), The Israelite fortress in Tel Arad contained the first Israelite temple ever discovered in an archaeological excavation. They discuss how Solomon probably built the first fortress on the site in the tenth century B.C.E.
Frankincense was known to be used as incense in ancient ritual practices, but not necessarily among the Yahweh worshippers at that time. Derived from a variety of African tree, it was a highly valued trade good. As Menahem Haran notes (“Altar-Ed States”, Bible Review, February, 1995) “Whether incense was used in the most ancient Israelite rituals has been debated in modern research.” He notes the expense and the extensive “incense route” frankincense would have had to travel to reach the ancient Israelites. The analysis of the residue on these altars is an indicator that frankincense was probably used religiously at Tel Arad.
The laboratory analysis of the residues revealed plants that were present in the shrine in the eighth century B.C.E., helping to enrich modern knowledge of the religious practices of the ancient Judahites.
This story first appeared in Bible History Daily in November, 2020
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Frankincense and Other Resins Were Used in Roman Burials Across Britain Archaeologists examining organic residues in Roman burials have for the first time confirmed the use of resins, including frankincense, in Roman funeral rites in Britain. In the Bible, frankincense was one of the gifts, along with gold and myrrh, the three magi presented to Jesus.
Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh? Were the gifts of the magi meant to save Jesus from the pain of arthritis? It’s possible, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales who have been studying the medical uses of frankincense.
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