Israel: Archaeologists find proof of opium use in ancient world

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Archaeologists and scientists have identified traces of opium on ancient ceramic jugs unearthed at a Bronze Age burial site in Israel’s Tel Yehud, in a discovery they say prove unequivocally the drug was used in the Levant in the ancient world, the Times of Israel reports.

The ceramic juglets on which opium residue was found were discovered during the excavation of a 14th century B.C burial site at Tel Yehud by Israel Antiquities Authority dig director Eriola Jakoel in 2012-2017, TOI said. Researchers learned the jugs had been imported from Cyprus.

Forensic scientists tested the jugs for opium as part of ongoing multi-disciplinary research into the use of opium in ancient times: ancient texts and religious iconography refer to the drug, TOI reports.

Research into the question has centered on archaeobotanical studies, which identified the opium poppy plant at archaeological sites dating to the Neolithic period. However, until now, there was no physical evidence to prove the drug was actually used in the ancient world, TOI said.

“This is the first empirical physical evidence of the use of opium in the Levant in the Late Bronze Age,” lead researcher Dr. Vanessa Linares told The Times of Israel Tuesday. “This is the first identifiable without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt opium use in the Levant — and I would say even in the Old World.”

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