Papaver somniferum or more commonly known as opium poppy is a flowering plant that is widely cultivated for medicinal, psychoactive, and alimentary purposes. A hardy species, it can grow in most parts of the world regardless of soil properties, temperature, or topography.
Its origins have been traced to the Mediterranean where it made its way to Europe through cultivation by Neolithic communities. However, the exact chronology of this journey had never been truly understood as all information relied solely on early archaeological attestations. But thanks to carbon dating scientists have been able to get a clearer and more precise timeline of this journey. Using samples taken from eleven Neolithic sites, the team was able to determine the radiocarbon chronology which ranged from 5622 to 4050 cal BCE.
Follow the opium poppy’s amazing journey through millennia here.