Researchers studying two altars from an ancient shrine in Israel have discovered that cannabis was used in religious rituals at the site. The discovery is the earliest evidence of cannabis use in the Ancient Near East, according to authors of a studypublished Thursday in the archaeological journal Tel Aviv.

The researchers studied residue from two limestone altars that were discovered in 1963 at the entrance to the “Holy of Holies” of a Judahite shrine devoted to Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God used in the Bible. The site, which was built in approximately 750 BCE and used for only about 35 years, is part of Tel Arad, an archaeological mound located in Israel’s Beersheba Valley west of the Dead Sea.

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