Historical Cannabis Use: Unearthing Secrets of 17th-Century Milanese Bones


Discoveries are often made in the most unexpected places, and the recent unearthing of 17th-century Milanese bones has shed new light on the historical cannabis use. Researchers at the University of Milan have analyzed bone samples from individuals buried near Milan’s Ospedale Maggiore and found traces of cannabis in two of the samples. This groundbreaking finding challenges our understanding of historical attitudes towards cannabis, as it suggests that people were using it recreationally or for self-medicating purposes, despite its absence in medical records of the time. The ongoing research is expected to reveal even more fascinating details about the historical usage patterns of cannabis.

The Discovery of Cannabis Traces in 17th-Century Milanese Bones

Overview of the groundbreaking discovery

In a groundbreaking discovery, researchers at the University of Milan have uncovered traces of cannabis in human bones dating back to the 17th century in Milan, Italy. Led by archaeotoxicologist Domenico di Candia, the team analyzed femoral bone samples from nine individuals buried near Milan’s historic Ospedale Maggiore. They found cannabis traces in two of the samples, revealing the historical use of cannabis in the region.

Research methods and analysis

To identify the presence of cannabis, the researchers utilized advanced analytical techniques. They extracted samples from the femoral bones and conducted tests to detect the presence of cannabis compounds. The analysis confirmed the presence of cannabis traces in two of the samples, indicating the consumption of cannabis by individuals in 17th-century Milan.

Location of the burial site

The burial site, located near Milan’s Ospedale Maggiore, holds great historical significance. Ospedale Maggiore, also known as Ca’ Granda, was one of the largest hospitals in Europe during the 17th century. The discovery of cannabis traces in bones from this location provides valuable insights into the historical context of cannabis use in Milan.

Number of individuals analyzed

The researchers analyzed femoral bone samples from nine individuals buried near Ospedale Maggiore. While the sample size may be relatively small, the presence of cannabis traces in two of the samples highlights the significance of the findings. Further analysis of the 10,000 skeletons buried beneath the Ca’ Granda crypt is planned, which will provide a more comprehensive understanding of historical cannabis usage patterns.

Implications for the History of Cannabis Use

Absence of cannabis in medical records

The discovery of cannabis traces in 17th-century Milanese bones challenges the prevailing belief that cannabis usage was absent from historical medical records. Despite the lack of documentation, the presence of cannabis in the bones suggests that individuals during this time period were utilizing cannabis for its potential medicinal properties.

Possible recreational or self-medication use

The absence of cannabis in medical records suggests that the consumption of cannabis in Milan during the 17th century may have been for recreational or self-medication purposes. People likely found ways to use cannabis for its relaxing or medicinal properties, even though it was not officially recognized or documented in medical texts.

Coping mechanism in harsh living conditions

The harsh living conditions of 17th-century Milan, characterized by famine, disease, and poor hygiene, may have contributed to the use of cannabis as a coping mechanism. Individuals may have turned to cannabis for its potential therapeutic effects, helping them alleviate stress and discomfort in their day-to-day lives.

Significance of Hemp in 17th-Century Italy

Various industries using hemp

Hemp played a significant role in 17th-century Italy, with its cultivation widespread across various industries. The fibers of the hemp plant were used to create textiles, ropes, and paper, among other products. The wide cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes likely facilitated a more discreet use of cannabis, as it could easily be concealed within these industries.

Facilitation of discreet cannabis use

The widespread cultivation of hemp provided an opportunity for individuals to use cannabis more discreetly. Hemp and cannabis are derived from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, and their physical similarities allowed individuals to consume cannabis without attracting significant attention. Marco Perduca, a former Italian senator and advocate for cannabis legalization, suggests that the use of hemp may have facilitated the discreet consumption of cannabis during this time period.

Statements from Marco Perduca

Marco Perduca, known for his advocacy of cannabis legalization, has commented on the significance of the Milanese bones discovery. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing the historical use of cannabis and its potential therapeutic benefits. Perduca believes that the discovery of cannabis traces in bones from the 17th century further supports the argument for the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis.

Ongoing Research and Expected Findings

University of Milan’s research plans

The University of Milan is dedicated to furthering our understanding of historical cannabis usage patterns through ongoing research. The research team plans to expand their analysis to more of the 10,000 skeletons buried beneath the Ca’ Granda crypt. This comprehensive analysis will provide further insights into the prevalence of cannabis use during the 17th century in Milan.

Analysis of more skeletons beneath Ca’ Granda crypt

The Ca’ Granda crypt holds a vast number of skeletons, presenting an unparalleled opportunity for researchers to delve deeper into historical cannabis use. By analyzing more skeletons, the research team aims to understand the widespread use of cannabis, the demographics of users, and the specific contexts in which cannabis was consumed.

Further insights into historical cannabis usage patterns

Through the ongoing research and analysis of the skeletons beneath the Ca’ Granda crypt, researchers anticipate uncovering valuable insights into historical cannabis usage patterns. By examining a larger sample size, the team hopes to establish a clearer picture of the role cannabis played in the daily lives of people in 17th-century Milan.

Historical Cannabis Use

Overview of cannabis use in history

Cannabis has been used for various purposes throughout history. Dating back thousands of years, cannabis has played a significant role in different cultures and societies. From its early use as a source of fiber and medicine to its more recent association with recreational use, cannabis has a rich historical background.

Different cultural and religious attitudes

Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

Cannabis has been regarded differently across different cultures and religions throughout history. Some cultures recognized its medical benefits and incorporated it into traditional medicinal practices, while others considered it a sacred plant with spiritual and religious significance. The discovery of cannabis traces in 17th-century Milanese bones highlights the complexities of historical attitudes towards cannabis.

Insight into past societies

Studying historical cannabis use provides valuable insight into the daily lives and practices of past societies. By understanding how cannabis was used in different historical contexts, we can gain a deeper understanding of cultural, social, and economic factors that shaped these societies. The discovery of cannabis traces in Milanese bones offers a unique glimpse into the lives of individuals in 17th-century Milan and their relationship with cannabis.

Medical Cannabis

Overview of cannabis use as medicine

Cannabis has a long history of being used as a medicinal plant. Ancient civilizations recognized the potential therapeutic properties of cannabis and utilized it to treat various ailments. Over time, cannabis has continued to be used as medicine, with modern research providing evidence of its effectiveness for a range of medical conditions.

Historical medicinal applications

Throughout history, cannabis has been used to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Historical records reveal its use as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and sedative. It was also used to relieve symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy, glaucoma, and asthma. The discovery of cannabis traces in 17th-century Milanese bones further supports the historical use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Comparison to modern medical cannabis use

The discovery of cannabis traces in 17th-century Milanese bones sheds light on the historical use of cannabis as medicine. Comparing historical medicinal applications to modern medical cannabis use highlights the continuity in the therapeutic properties of cannabis. It also underscores the importance of ongoing research and exploration of cannabis’s potential as a medical treatment.



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