Did Cannabis Trigger the Birth of Western Civilization?
5,000 years ago, the mass migration of the Yamnaya people sowed the seeds for modern civilizations in both Europe and Asia — perhaps literally. Originally from the Pontic Steppe, the dispersal of the Yamnaya people forged early trade routes that would later evolve into the legendary Silk Road. The descendants of the Yamnaya and those they traded with would eventually develop into the earliest recognizable civilizations in Eurasia. While scientists have largely attributed the success of the Yamnaya dispersal to their domestication of wild horses and the advent of animal husbandry, the driving force behind such a dispersal has remained a mystery. What were they trading that would necessitate the development of such trade routes? What did they have to offer that would be so highly sought after over such large distances? New evidence suggests that it may have been cannabis. Recently released archaeological evidence shows an increase in cannabis cultivation in East Asia that coincides with the Yamnaya migration. The argument could certainly be made that the Yamnaya people were cannabis users and that their migration is what triggered widespread cannabis use throughout Europe and Asia. While more evidence needs to be gathered and corroborated across various scientific disciplines, this development is quite intriguing.
You can also read the original study here.