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Subst Use Misuse. 1997 May; 32(6): 757-66.

The rules of drug taking: wine and poppy derivatives in the ancient world. VI. Poppies as a source of food and drug.

Nencini P.

Institute of Medical Pharmacology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.

Poppies were widely used during antiquity as a source of food, therapeutics, and poisons. It is likely that the alimentary value of poppy seeds was known in the Neolithic age, and there is some evidence that the neuropsychopharmacological effects of poppy juice were exploited during the Minoan civilization in the eastern Mediterranean basin. The Minoan civilization dates the attribution to poppies of symbolic meanings connected with rites of agricultural fertility. The persistence throughout antiquity of this symbolism is testified by literary and iconographic evidence of the attribution of poppies to goddesses of fertility, such as Demeter, Aphrodite, and Ceres.

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