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Sedimentary cannabinol tracks the history of hemp retting

Marlene Lavrieux, Jeremy Jacob, Jean-Robert Disnar, Jean-Gabriel Breheret, Claude Le Milbeau, Yannick Miras and Valerie Andrieu-Ponel
Sedimentary cannabinol tracks the history of hemp retting
Geology (Boulder) (May 2013) 41 (7): 751-754


Hemp (Cannabis sp.) has been a fundamental plant for the development of human societies. Its fibers have long been used for textiles and rope making, which requires prior stem retting. This process is essential for extracting fibers from the stem of the plant, but can adversely affect the quality of surface waters. The history of human activities related to hemp (its domestication, spread, and processing) is frequently reconstructed from seeds and pollen detected in archaeological sites or in sedimentary archives, but this method does not always make it possible to ascertain whether retting took place. Hemp is also known to contain phytocannabinoids, a type of chemicals that is specific to the plant. Here we report on the detection of one of these chemicals, cannabinol (CBN), preserved in a sediment record from a lake in the French Massif Central covering the past 1800 yr. The presence of this molecule in the sedimentary record is related to retting. Analysis of the evolution of CBN concentrations shows that hemp retting was a significant activity in the area until ca. A.D. 1850. These findings, supported by pollen analyses and historical data, show that this novel sedimentary tracer can help to better constrain past impacts of human activities on the environment.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 41
Serial Issue: 7
Title: Sedimentary cannabinol tracks the history of hemp retting
Affiliation: Universite d'Orleans, Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orleans, Orleans, France
Pages: 751-754
Published: 20130509
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 33
Accession Number: 2013-043468
Categories: PaleobotanyQuaternary geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2013209
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
N45°40'00" - N45°40'00", E02°58'60" - E02°58'60"
Secondary Affiliation: Universite Francois-Rabelais de Tours, FRA, FranceLaboratoire de Geographique Physique et Environnementale, FRA, FranceUniversite Paul Cezanne, FRA, France
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201327
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