ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian plants: Hemp
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Hemp

    Unfortunately, as in so many other cases, the literary sources are ambiguous. There is talk of SmSm.t, employed in medicine and also in rope making, which might suggest the use of Cannabis sativa. But no ancient Egyptian hemp ropes [1] or fabric [2] have to date been identified as such, and the only physical remains reported to have been discovered are cannabinoids in a few mummies. According to Dr S. Balabanova who performed the examination:
The immunological determination of cocaine and hashish (THC) showed the presence of these drugs in all nine samples
Balabanova, S., F. Parsche and W. Pirsig 1992. First identification of drugs in Egyptian mummies. Naturwissenschaften 79: 358.
    A. G. Nerlich had come to similar conclusions in 1995 when examining a mummy with a lung disease [5].
    Doubts have been cast on these findings and modern contamination has been suggested [3]. On the other hand new research has found pollen of the cannabis plant family (which also includes hemp) on a number of mummies dating from the predynastic to the Ptolemaic period [4].
 

[4] C. de Vartavan, V. Asensi Amorós, Codex of Ancient Egyptian Plant Remains, Triade Exploration, London, (1997)
[5] Andreas G. Nerlich, Franz Parsche, Irmgard Wiest, Peter Schramel, Udo Löhrs: Extensive pulmonary haemorrhage in an Egyptian mummy, Virchows Arch 1995
 

 
 
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-[1] Household utensils and materials
-[2] Flax
 
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-[3] American Drugs in Egyptian Mummies: A Review of the Evidence by Samuel A. Wells
© 2002

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