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article imageCannabis walls saved India's ancient Ellora caves

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Mar 12, 2016 in Environment
A recently published study shows cannabis helped to preserve ancient Indian paintings at Ellora caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site, from decaying for 1,500 years.
The Ellora caves in Western India were built between the 6th and 11th centuries, AD and are made up of a group of 34 temples carved out of stone. Many of the caves have rich paintings which are still protected.
Scientists in Archaeological Survey of India claim a mixture of cannabis, clay and lime plaster used in the construction played a key role in preserving the World Heritage site. They were able to isolate specimens of cannabis from the clay plaster using a scanning electron microscope, infrared spectroscopy and stereo microscopic studies. The report in the journal Current Science.says:
The remains of Cannabis from the sample of clay plaster of Ellora suggest that it was used with clay/lime as insulating agent as well as to provide a degree of strength to the plaster. Studies in Europe have estimated 600–800 years of life span to the hempcrete wall, but hemp in the clay plaster of Ellora has survived more than 1500 years. The long life of clay plaster at Ellora, despite damaging environmental parameters, may be attributed to the material properties of hemp, which is fibrous and durable. The hempcrete plaster of Ellora must have provided a healthy, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing living environment to the Buddhist monks to stay.
Studies also show that in the neighboring Ajanta caves, another World Heritage site, where cannabis wasn’t used, rampant insect activity has damaged at least 25 percent of the paintings.
Currently, cultivation, transport, possession and consumption of marijuana is banned under Indian law.
More about Cannabis, ellora, Decay
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