Traces of opium found in 3500-year-old pottery in Israel, researchers say could have been used in ancient burial rituals

The joint investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Weizmann Institute of Science began in 2012 when excavations in the central Israeli town of Yehud revealed a series of Late Bronze Age graves

Agence France-Presse September 21, 2022 10:32:23 IST
Traces of opium found in 3500-year-old pottery in Israel, researchers say could have been used in ancient burial rituals

A handout picture made available through the Israeli Antiquities Authority on 5 October 2021, shows. AFP

Yehud: Israeli archaeologists said Tuesday they had discovered opium residue in 3,500-year-old pottery pieces, providing evidence to support the theory that the drug was used in ancient burial rituals.

The joint investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Weizmann Institute of Science began in 2012 when excavations in the central Israeli town of Yehud revealed a series of Late Bronze Age graves.

Researchers found pottery vessels at the site that resembled poppy flowers — from which opium is derived — dating back to the 14th century BC.

They then examined whether they had served as containers for the drug, which earlier writing had suggested was used in burial rituals in Canaan, and found “opium residue in eight vessels”, the researchers said in a statement.

These were likely “placed in graves for ceremonial meals, rites and rituals performed by the living for their deceased family members”, said Ron Be’eri, an archaeologist with the antiquities authority.

During these ceremonies, “family members or a priest on their behalf” would “attempt to summon the spirit of their dead relatives… and enter an ecstatic state by using opium”, Be’eri said.

But he acknowledged that much remained unknown about its use in ancient times. “We can only speculate what was done with opium,” he said.

               Read all the Latest News, Trending News, Cricket News, Bollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Updated Date:

also read

Iran blames Israel as roadside bomb kills Revolutionary Guards colonel in Syria
World

Iran blames Israel as roadside bomb kills Revolutionary Guards colonel in Syria

Iran has long backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government in the country's grinding civil war. Assad is also backed by the military wing of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah as well as by Russian forces

Israel swears in new Parliament as Netanyahu begins talks with allies to form govt
World

Israel swears in new Parliament as Netanyahu begins talks with allies to form govt

The majority secured by Netanyahu's Likud and its allies -- two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties and the rising far-right Religious Zionism alliance -- is expected to usher in a stable government, ending an unprecedented period of political gridlock that saw five elections in less than four years

Netanyahu's return may augur well for India-Israel-Africa trilateral relationship
Opinion

Netanyahu's return may augur well for India-Israel-Africa trilateral relationship

Against the backdrop of waning US influence, Israel, similar to India, seeks to stake its claim on the continent. Despite lacking clear direction, at least since the Netanyahu administration, Africa has begun to receive sufficient attention in Israel's foreign policy