Archaeologists have discovered cannabis residue on artifacts in a temple in southern Israel, marking the first known use of hallucinogenic drugs in the Jewish religion, reports the Associated Press.
The study, which was published Friday in the Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, notes that the “revolutionary” findings from an eighth-century BC shrine at Tel Arad suggest “the use of mind-altering substances as part of cultic rituals in Judah.”
“Here, the official state religion of the kingdom of Judah was using this substance,” study author Eran Arie said of the psychotropic samples, which were found on two limestone altars. The synagogue was first unearthed in the 1960s at the Tel Arad excavation site near Jerusalem, however, archaeologists hadn’t identified the ancient marijuana until now.
Chemical analysis also revealed that the hashish was likely burned atop dried animal droppings.
However, it’s unlikely that the ancient Hebrews were smoking pot to get stoned. Yossi Garfinkel, an archaeology professor from Hebrew University, postulated that they took various mind-altering substances, including opium and wine “to get into ecstasy and connect with God.”
The marijuana milestone marks the “first time we see psychoactive substances in Judahite religion,” according to Arie, who hopes the discovery will shed more light on how ancient Israelites conducted worship.