In DepthArchaeology

Cannabis, opium use part of ancient Near Eastern cultures

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  20 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6386, pp. 249-250
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6386.249

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

For as long as there has been civilization, there have been mind-altering drugs. Alcohol has been around for at least 10,000 years, but recent advances in chemical analysis of old pots reveal that other psychoactive drugs were present at the dawn of the first complex societies some 5000 years ago in the ancient Middle East. Ancient people from Turkey to Egypt experimented with local substances such as blue water lily, while imports like cannabis and opium made from poppies spread through early international trade networks. Armed with the new data, archaeologists are probing just how these drugs impacted early societies and beliefs. Some argue that the impact of these psychoactive substances has been underestimated, and that a drug culture was central to ritual in Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt, and the Levant.