Gushi culture

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Gushi (Chinese: 姑師文化; pinyin: Gūshī wénhuà) or Jushi (Chinese: 車師文化; pinyin: Jūshī wénhuà), was an ancient culture around the Turpan basin,[1] in what is today the Xinjiang region of China.

Historical accounts[edit]

The area around Ayding Lake in the Turpan region was said to be the territory of the Gushi people. According to historical accounts, these people "lived in tents, followed the grasses and waters, and had considerable knowledge of agriculture. They owned cattle, horses, camels sheep and goats. They were proficient with bows and arrows".[2] The Gushi and the kingdom of Kroran were linked in the account of Zhang Qian, presumably because they were under the control of the Xiongnu. In the years around 60 BC, Gushi fell to the Chinese after the Battle of Jushi and was subsequently known as Jushi.

Jushi then further differentiated into two kingdoms, the Nearer Jushi (Turfan) and the Further Jushi (Jimasa).

Archaeology and research[edit]

The Yanghai Tombs, a vast ancient cemetery (54 000 m2) attributed to this culture, have revealed the 2,700-year-old grave of a shaman. Near the head and foot of the shaman lay a large leather basket and wooden bowl filled with 789g of cannabis, superbly preserved by climatic and burial conditions. An international team demonstrated that this material contained tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis. The cannabis was presumably employed by this culture as a medicinal or psychoactive agent, or an aid to divination. This is the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent.[3]

The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly "cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.[3] The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man,[citation needed] likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China. The extremely dry conditions and alkaline soil acted as preservatives, allowing a team of scientists to carefully analyze the stash, which still looked green though it had lost its distinctive odour.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jan Romgard, “Ancient Human Settlements in Xinjiang and the Early Silk Road Trade” Sino-Platonic Papers, 185 (November, 2008)[1]
  2. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Mair, Victor H. (2000). The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 143–144. 
  3. ^ a b "Phytochemical and genetic analyses of ancient cannabis from Central Asia," Ethan B. Russo et al., Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 59, No. 15, pp. 4171–4182, 2008 [2]


  • Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
  • Hulsewé, A. F. P. (1979). China in Central Asia: The Early Stage 125 BC – AD 23: an annotated translation of chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty. E. J. Brill, Leiden. ISBN 90-04-05884-2.

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