Earliest traces of opium use, present in Israel, might have been an ‘providing to the gods’

The earliest proof of opium utilization within the historic world has been found at a burial web site in central Israel that dates to round 14th century B.C., throughout the Late Bronze Age.

Residue of the narcotic, which is made utilizing the seed capsules of the poppy plant, was discovered inside greater than a half dozen 3,500-year-old pottery vessels on the web site, which is positioned at Tel Yehud simply exterior Tel Aviv, a area previously often called Canaan.

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Weizmann Institute of Science found the pit tomb throughout an excavation in 2012. Nevertheless, they discovered the opium-laced pottery, alongside the skeletal stays of a male who died between 40 and 50 years of age, on a return excavation in 2017, in line with a research revealed July 2 within the journal Archaeometry (opens in new tab).

After testing 22 storage jars and juglets utilizing chemical evaluation, the researchers found that eight of the ceramic vessels contained hint quantities of the extremely addictive drug. Of the items that examined constructive, a number of regarded much like the bulbous form of an inverted poppy capsule. A few of the pottery was imported from the island of Cyprus, positioned west of Tel Yehud, the researchers decided, noting clay bands on the long-necked vessels and different distinctive decorations associated to pottery from that space.

In line with a research in Nature (opens in new tab), opium poppy was “current from at the very least the center of the sixth millennium within the Mediterranean, the place it probably grew naturally and was cultivated by pioneer Neolithic communities.” 

Associated: Ancient ‘hangover prevention’ ring found in Israel

“There was a speculation in 2017 that as a result of among the jugs resembled poppies, that they could comprise opium,” Vanessa Linares, a doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv College and the research’s lead writer, advised Dwell Science. “We discovered that was the case and that opium was contained inside among the vessels.”

Whereas it is not clear why opium was a part of this explicit burial, Linares mentioned researchers have a number of theories based mostly on historic documentation from different historic civilizations all over the world.


“In line with the historic and written report, we see that Sumerian clergymen used opium to succeed in the next state of spirituality, whereas the Egyptians reserved opium for warriors in addition to clergymen, probably utilizing it not solely to have a psychoactive impact but additionally for medicinal processes, since its primary compound is morphine, which is used to assist with ache,” Linares mentioned. 

“Maybe it was additionally there as an providing for the gods, and perhaps they thought that the deceased would wish it within the afterlife,” she added. “I believe we are able to make quite a lot of speculations and recommendations for why it was there.”

Initially revealed on Dwell Science.


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