©Wellcome Library, London

A plant which originated in Asia but was cultivated in Europe from earliest times. The Romans smoked the female hemp flowers (marijuana) in social gatherings to ‘incite to hilarity and joy'. By the 7th century, the Celts in western Europe were exporting hemp ropes and fibres from Massilia (Marseilles) to the rest of the Mediterranean. Remains of smoking materials such as pipes suggest that they also used it as a drug. This illustration is reproduced from a copy of Dioscorides' De materia medica, made in c. 512 CE at Constantinople for Princess Anicia Juliana, daughter of Olybrius, one of the last Roman emperors.

Source: Codex Aniciae Julianae picturis illustratus, nunc Vindobonensis med: Gr I. AW Sijthoff, Leiden, 1906.