Rastafarians not only mixed the idea of cannabis and religion. This seems to be demonstrated by an analysis of two Iron Age altars. They were discovered at the entrance to a shrine “Sancta Santorum” in Tel Arad in the Beer-Sheba Valley in Israel. Preserved cannabis and frankincense were found in an old biblical temple.
Earlier excavations revealed two overlapping forts. They date from the 9th century to the beginning of the 6th century BC. C. They guarded the southern border of Biblical Judah. Very important findings from the Iron Age were discovered. Including a well-preserved sanctuary from 750-715 BC.
Not identified at first
Two limestone altars have been found. The smallest altar is 40 cm high and about 20 by 20 cm tall at the top. The largest is approximately 50 cm high and 30 by 30 cm above. You are at the entrance to the “Sancta Santorum” of the sanctuary. The study was published in the Tel Aviv Journal of the Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University.
Apparently, they had played an important role in the worship practices of the sanctuary. An unidentified black solidified organic material was preserved on the surfaces of the altars. An earlier analysis of these materials could not identify their content. This dark material was recently subjected to an analysis of organic residues using modern methods.
The oldest promenade in history
The study shows that cannabis was mixed with animal manure on the smaller altar. It made heating easier. There were traces of incense on the larger altar. It was mixed with animal fat to promote evaporation.
New lights for its religious use
These unique findings shed new light on worship practices in Biblical Judah. Cannabis kept in an old biblical temple suggests that it was intentionally used psychoactive here. The aim was to stimulate ecstasy in worship ceremonies.
The main author is Eran Arie from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He commented, “This is the first time that cannabis has been identified in the old Middle East. Its use in the sanctuary must have played a central role in worship rituals.
Frankincense comes from Arabia. The presence of incense in Arad shows Juda’s involvement in trade with southern Arabia. Even before the patronage and encouragement of the Assyrian empire. Arad provides the earliest evidence of incense in a clear worship environment. Frankincense is mentioned as a component of incense that was burned in the temple in Jerusalem because of its pleasant aroma.
Tel Arad’s “fortress hill” in the Beer Sheba Valley in southern Israel was excavated more than 50 years ago.
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