The Earliest Evidence of the Use of Opium, Discovered in a Canaanite Tomb

At an archaeological site near the Israeli town of Yehud, researchers found residue of opium in jugs from the 14th-century BCE. They conjecture that the opium itself came from poppies grown in what is now Turkey, while the practice of using opium was introduced to the Canaanites by the Egyptians. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

Over the past decade of research surrounding the chronology of the dispersion of opium, archaeobotanical studies have identified poppy—the plant from which opium is harvested—at archaeological sites dating to the Neolithic period. Additionally, there are ancient texts talking about opium use as well as ample religious iconography. But until now archaeologists hadn’t found the physical evidence to back it up.

The opium residue was found in high-quality ceramic base-ring juglets that were imported from Cyprus and others used in a burial assemblage discovered at Tel Yehud, in a salvage excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority dig director Eriola Jakoel from 2012 to 2017.

The residue detected by the California-native Vanessa Linares records is, to date, the oldest proof of psychoactive drug use in the archaeological record, predating the much-publicized Tel Arad cannabis find by about 600 years.

Perhaps, Linares said, the buried individual would need the opium to endure his transition to the afterlife, or maybe it was used for ritualistic purposes by the priests themselves. Or it could have been used by the mourners to ease their emotional pain over the loss of the deceased.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Canaanites, Drugs

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus