750 BCE: Assyrians use marijuana medicine to “banish ghost of child birth”

750 BCE: Assyrians use marijuana medicine to “bannish ghost of child birth”.

750 BCE: Assyrians use marijuana medicine to “bannish ghost of child birth”.

The ancient Assyrian kingdom existed as a nation state from the mid 23rd Century BCE to 608  BCE and centered on the Upper Tigris river in northern Mesopotamia (present day northern Iraq).

During his 7th century BCE reign, the famous Ashurai king Ashurbanipal sent emissaries far afield in search of ancient texts and recovered many invaluable records, including the oldest stories of Adam and Eve and the Flood.
He copied many from cuneiform originals thousands of years older and sealed them within a vast underground library he specially constructed for the purpose. In the late 19th century archaeologists Sir Henry Layard and Hormuzd Rassam found this unique time capsule intact and recovered a huge cache of 50,000 tablets.

One such tablet has a fragment recording an ancient Assyrian herbal remedy which uses cannabis for “banishing the ghosts of childbirth.” One of a number of cuneiform medical texts and prescriptions recovered from King Ashurbanipal’s famous underground library in Nineveh during the late 19th century.


A partial translation of the text reads:
. . . . six times thou shalt plait (twist) the plants,
. . . . garlic, calendula, cannabis . . . seven herbs for plaiting,
. . . . ten herbs all … bandage against the Hand of a Ghost,
. . . . a seal of balti-stone not inscribed . . . will remove. [1]

According to R. Campbell Thompson in his 1936 “A Dictionary of Assyrian Chemistry and Geology,” the following Sumerian words stood for either parts or the whole of the Medical Marijuana Plant:


In addition Thompson goes on to point out various sub-meanings of the words; i.e. [In A-ZAL-LA the ‘ZAL’ part means to “SPIN,” such as in, the plant used in spinning etc.] As well as the similarity of these words and with those making reference to cannabis in other languages.[2]

The exact meaning of these words is still somewhat open to interpretation, few however deny that by the time that the Assyrian Empire was in existence, the use of medical cannabis was well established.


1. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 19, No. 1/2 (Jan. - Jun., 1956), pp. 1-39; The Role of Amulets in Mesopotamian Ritual Texts By Beatrice L. Goff
2.  K.10507, published by Thompson in Assyrian Medical Texts, Pl. 66, 4 and transliterated and translated by him in Babyloniaca, XIV, 1934, pp. 83 f., 133-6.

Research and text © Hempshopper Amsterdam.