Diana L. Stein has written an interesting article published in The Ancient Near East Today on the use of psychedelics drugs in the ancient Near East. Below is a brief excerpt from the article:
Despite the many references, most of the botanical names are still unidentified. Our best clues regarding psychotropic plants come from actual botanical remains: liquid residues, carbonized seeds, pollen, fibers and fiber impressions. Various hallucinogenic plants have now been identified in and around the ancient Near East. Traces of a liquid extract from the Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea caerulea), a potent narcotic plant, were discovered in alabaster jars stored in the Annex of Tutankamun’s 14th century BCE tomb in Egypt. In the courtyard of a Late Bronze Age temple at Kamid el-Loz in Lebanon stood a storage jar containing 10 liters of Viper’s Bugloss (Echium Linné), another potent hallucinogen. There are strong indications that Cyprus was the source of opium (Papaver somniferum), which was exported around the Eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age in characteristic Base-Ring I jugletsshaped like poppy seed capsules.
Still more widespread is evidence for hemp (Cannabis sativa). The oldest example of this multi-purpose plant now comes from Çatal Hüyük, a Neolithic site in Turkey, where a hemp-weaved fabric was recently found wrapped around a skeleton below a burnt building dated c. 7000 BCE. Already at this time hemp is thought to have been an important trade item. Elsewhere in Central Asia, Caucasia and the Eurasian steppe, evidence for hemp extends from late Neolithic to Scythian times and exists in the form of rope, thread, hemp-impressed pottery and actual hemp seeds. Some of the hemp-impressed ware served as braziers that were found in graves, and the seeds were likewise associated with braziers and burials.
Stein studies how psychedelics drugs were used in antiquity and how it was regulated. She also seeks to compare how ancient societies used psychedelics drugs with the use of psychedelics drugs today.
Good article. You can read the article in its entirety here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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