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Hemp History BCE

8000 - 7000 BCE: The earliest known fabric is woven from hemp.

The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest evidence of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric found in Taiwan that dates back to approximately 8,000 BCE1, but according to The Great Book of Hemp, a 12,000 years old Neolithic site unearthed at Yuan-Shan included coarse, sandy pottery with hempen cord marks covering the surface, and an incised, rod-shaped stone beater used to pound hemp into cord.2

Scattered among the trash and debris from this prehistoric community were some broken pieces of pottery the sides of which had been decorated by pressing strips of cord into the wet clay before it hardened. Also dispersed among the pottery fragments were some elongated rod-shaped tools, very similar in appearance to those later used to loosen cannabis fibers from their stems.3 These simple pots, with their patterns of twisted fiber embedded in their sides, suggest that men have been using the marijuana plant in some manner since the dawn of history.

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4000 BCE: The earliest well-documented evidence of cannabis use.

Yang Shao hemp-cord imprinted amphoraThe earliest well-documented evidence of cannabis use is from China, where carbon -14 dating has confirmed it from 4000 BCE1. An abundance of archaeological evidence proves the continuous cultivation of hemp from prehistoric times. Among the items excavated from a late Neolithic site in Zhejiang provinces, several textile articles were found made of hemp and silk. Cannabis was primarily an important fiber plant. It was used extensively in making ropes, cordage, fishnets: fabrics of all kinds.

Imprints of hemp textiles and cordage adorn several fragments of pottery found amongst the ruins of Xi'an Banpo village in Shaanxi province.  Through the C14 dating of these remains, they were confirmed as cultural relics of the Yangshao culture (4115 +/- 110 BCE to 3535 +/105 BCE)2.  

The Yangshao culture  was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the central Yellow River in China. The culture flourished mainly in the provinces of Henan, Shaanxi and Shanxi. It is dated from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC. The Yangshao culture produced silk to a small degree, wove hemp and produced pottery. They wore hemp clothing and domesticated pigs and dogs.1 Although the imprints of textiles and cordage could have been made from fibers other than hemp, hemp remains the most likely choice.  

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