Updated: Sep 17, 2020
When I was young, I loved to read about Egyptian mythology. In fact, I had wanted to become an archeologist and explore the tombs hidden in the desert. Of course, my parents were not thrilled that I would rather listen to stories about Thoth and Anubis over stories about Disney princesses. But what can I say? I was a strange child.
Even now as an adult, I still enjoy the mythology and mystery surrounding ancient Egyptian culture. And when I began working within the cannabis industry, I quickly learned my knowledge of both topics crossed paths.
It's no secret ancient Egyptians used cannabis for a number of things. From medicine to sacred rituals to materials and grain, the residents of the Nile had a million and one uses for the plant.
One of the most intact resources we have is the Eber's Papyrus. According to the Britannica, the Eber's Papyrus is a compilation of medical texts dating back around 1550 BC. While not the oldest known medical book, it is the most complete. Contained within its lines were uses for cannabis, including Sm-Sm-et (or as we know it, hemp). The Antique Cannabis Book gives several detailed translated examples of how Sm-Sm-et was used for medical purposes, including a treatment for gonorrhea.
A paper written by Venice Ibrahim Attia detailed other various uses for Cannabis, including ropes and fabrics. In the paper, an example of cord made from hemp was found in the ruins of Akhenaton.
Not only was cannabis prevalent in the daily lives of mortal Egyptians but was also present in the lives of their gods and goddesses. Seshat, the goddess of the written word, is depicted with a cannabis leaf over her head. Which, considering cannabis fiber could be made into a form of paper, makes sense.
So what does the ancient Egyptian's use of cannabis have to do with how we use the plant today? As we look for more sustainable alternatives to help our environment, cannabis provides a realistic alternative. Biodegradable plastic, fiber, grain, alternative remedies...the list goes on and on. As more research is done, we come back to what our ancestors already knew. Cannabis can help solve many of the problems we face today.
Ancient Egyptian culture has remained a point of fascination for many. And as we uncover the mysteries of the past, we learn just how cannabis can help provide a prosperous and sustainable future.