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

Sept. 22 2022

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.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Canaanites, Drugs

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy