It is been find in the Karma Sutra – but did Vikings play a role with weed in North America?

While cannabis is having a moment globally as Canada, the US, Europe and more are looking to embrace the plant and invest in research to unlock more medical benefits, it has long be part of the global culture. The plants was first domesticated about 12,000 years ago in East Asia during the early Neolithic period. It has been part of documented ancient history in prehistoric societies in Eurasia and Africa. In appears in China, the Middle East, use spread throughout the Islamic empire to North Africa. In the mid 1500s, it spread to the western hemisphere.  And now, there may be a clue about it in North America.

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Archaeologists excavating and analyzing a Viking settlement in Newfoundland one substance raising some high-minded questions — cannabis. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers focused on L’Anse aux Meadows, a site in northern Newfoundland, Canada where Vikings landed and settled around the year 1000. Previously scientists believed Vikings only stayed in this spot a short time, but their work uncovered the possibility Vikings may have stayed until the 12th or 13th century. And they might have had marijuana with them.

An archaeological team excavated a peat bog about 100 feet from the Viking settlement.  They found a layer of “ecofacts,” which are “environmental remains which may have been brought to the site by humans.” This layer was radiocarbon dated to the early Middle Ages and is where researchers discovered cannabis pollen, a plant not native to the area.

The question propose how was the cannabis used? Were they producing clothing from the plant’s fibers or smoking it for medical or potentially recreational reasons? It also could mean none of these things, reminded the study’s lead author and postdoctoral fellow at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Paul Ledger.

Earlier, marijuana was inhaled by Daoists, who burned it in incense burners. So it was used not only in religious ceremonies, but also for medical use including pain and other issues.  And in the Karma Sutra, it was used recreationally. Considering the hard life of a marauding Viking, a little pain relief and relaxation would be highly valued.

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More research is being done to see if humans local to the Newfoundland area and not Vikings could have been the ones responsible for the cannabis pollen. Viking scholars are curious about the find and will continue to investigate.

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