Opium: was it used as a recreational drug in ancient Egypt?
This paper analyzes the existence and use of opium in ancient Egypt, its introduction in the country and references to opium as a medicinal ingredient. Some prescriptions in medical papyri are mentioned as records confirming the application of opium. Objects are mentioned as records of the drug presence in Egypt. Whether it was used only as a medicine but also as a recreational drug is here discussed. The attempt to date the introduction of the Papaver somniferum L. plant in ancient Egypt is also developed. Scientific data were consulted, but it is needed to note that some authors present different views. Nevertheless, this paper suggests that opium may have been introduced in ancient Egypt in the New Kingdom (c. 1550-1350 BCE), although records for the commerce of the drug may point to the end of the Ptolemaic Period, influencing Greek medicine and expanding its use throughout the Roman Period onwards.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Paula Veiga, "Opium: was it used as a recreational drug in ancient Egypt?", in: "Cultural and Linguistic Transition explored. Proceedings of the ATrA closing workshop Trieste, May 25-26, 2016", Ilaria Micheli (ed.), Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, pp. 199-215