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Hemp Deposits In French Lake Date Back To 900 AD

By on July 29, 2013
A woman soaks hemp in water to separate fiber from the stem - a process known as hemp retting

A woman soaks hemp in water to separate fiber from the stem – a process known as retting. Hemp retting deposits chemicals like cannabinol (CBN) in the water.

TruthOnPot.com – Throughout history, humans have relied on the hemp plant to meet basic needs ranging from food to clothing to medicine. Hemp is also believed to be one of the earliest crops cultivated by ancient civilizations in many parts of the world. However, establishing an accurate timeline remains a challenge for historians.

Looking to overcome this, a group of French geologists decided to measure levels of hemp pollen and – for the first time ever – cannabinol (CBN) in sedimentary samples drilled from Lake Aydat – a lake in central France. Published in the July issue of Geology, their results confirm a long history of hemp cultivation in the region – dating back to around 900 A.D. and increasing up until the late 1800′s, when the introduction of the cheaper cotton industry reduced the need for hemp.

Lake Aydat is located in a volcanic region near central France.

Lake Aydat is located in a volcanic region near central France.

The team was also able to establish a more accurate timeline of hemp cultivation by comparing hemp deposits with other pieces of historical evidence. According to the authors, at one point, hemp was produced in small plots on the outskirts of every village in the Auvergne, France region.

While hemp was mostly used for textile making, early French communities made use of every part of the plant (expect the root). For instance, oil was extracted from seeds as lighting fuel, stems were peeled and used for heating, leaves were used for animal bedding and hemp seeds were also used as animal feed. Later on during the 17th Century, hemp was exported for the paper and rope industries.

Pollen samples are commonly used to measure hemp cultivation, but looking at CBN levels gave the researchers an unique perspective on an activity known as hemp retting – the process of separating hemp fiber from the stem which involves soaking it in water. CBN is one of the known byproducts of hemp retting, whereas pollen is a less specific marker of hemp activity.

Hemp was first cultivated in France around 470 A.D., but peaked over a thousand years later.

Hemp was first cultivated in France around 470 A.D., but didn’t reach a peak until more than a thousand years later.

Interestingly, the researchers found that CBN was still present in high levels throughout the 18th Century, despite a ban on hemp retting that began in 1669 A.D. This seemed to confirm historical records that suggest the ban was never fully accepted, even 160 years later.

Perhaps more important than the team’s specific findings is the fact that this study was the first to ever analyze CBN samples in sedimentary deposits. The authors concluded that looking at cannabinoid levels at different periods in time could lead to a better understanding of hemp cultivation throughout ancient history.

The study was funded by the ERODE project (Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).

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