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New radiocarbon dates for the early dispersal of Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) in western Europe.

Abstract : Numerous sites from the early Neolithic have provided opium poppy remains in the Western Mediterranean and Temperate Europe. These, constitute the earliest secure evidence of this plant in archaeological records. A one-year project, funded by the Fyssen Foundation, aims to trace the origin of opium poppy and its spread across Western Europe through a solid chronological approach. AMS dating has been performed on annual plants seeds recovered in the same sieving fraction as poppy, using the AGE 3 graphitization system together with the mini radiocarbon dating System ECHo-MICADAS. In addition, for selected sites, poppy seeds were directly dated. In order to measure the radiocarbon activity of these very small samples (between 15 to 80µgC), their CO2 has been extracted off-line and introduced into the ECHo-MICADAS via a Gas Interface System (GIS). Until now, 22 dates (14 sites), including 13 dates on poppy have been obtained. The earliest appearance of opium poppy is dated to the middle of the 6th millennium cal BC on the pile-dwelling site of la Marmotta (Central Italy), in the area where the putative wild ancestor (subsp. setigerum) of the cultivated opium poppy (subsp. somniferum) originated from. Another group of dates, centred around 5100 calBC, corresponds to Cardial (Mediterranean area) and LBK (Temperate area) sites. The Alpine area is thereafter reached at the very beginning of the 5th millennium cal BC showing the rapid dispersal of the plant during early Neolithic.
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Contributor : Aurélie Salavert <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 2:03:35 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 3:24:02 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02166029, version 1



Aurélie Salavert, Antoine Zazzo, F. Antolín, L. Martin, C. Bakels, et al.. New radiocarbon dates for the early dispersal of Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) in western Europe.. 18th conference of the International Workgroup for Palaeoethnobotany., Jun 2019, Lecce, Italy. ⟨halshs-02166029⟩



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