Origins of Opium

In 3400 B.C. the opium poppy was first cultivated.  This occurred in the lower Mesopotamia.  It was called Hul Gil or “joy plant” by the Sumerians.  At this time, the plant was well known for its euphoric effects.  Knowledge of this plant began to spread and was passed from the Sumerians to the Assyrians, to the Babylonians, and then on to the Egyptians.

In 1300 B.C. the Egyptians were cultivating more and more opium.  Trade began and moved to the Phoenicians and Minoans.  Opium soon spread to areas of Greece, Carthage, and Europe.

In 1100 B.C. the people of Cyprus started making special tools to help harvest the poppy.

In 460 B.C. Hippocrates uses opium as a narcotic to help treat internal diseases and epidemics.

In 300 B.C. Opium moves to Persia and India.Image

In 400 A.D., opium is introduced to China.

In the 1300’s, opium lost popularity in Europe.  The use of the drug was looked upon as taboo and was frowned upon greatly by the Holy Inquisition.

In 1500, the Portuguese started smoking opium.

In 1527, opium gained its popularity again when it was used in “Stones of Immortality” in European medicine.  These painkilling pills contained opium thebaicum, citrus juice, and small amounts of gold.

In the 1600’s, opium was consumed in various foods and drinks for recreational use by Persia and India.

In 1680, Sydenham’s Laudanum is created by Thomas Sydenham.  This was a mixture of opium, sherry wine, and herbs.

In 1700, opium pipe smoking is introduced to China via the Dutch.



Research (Writing) Conducted by: Morgan Reish