chapter  Chapter 1
17 Pages


WithL. D. Kapoor

Opium poppy, perhaps, originated in Asia Minor. The first and the most ancient testimony concerning the poppy is given in a small tablet of white clay found at Nippur during the excavations undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania Archaeological Mission. Cultivation of opium poppy was very ancient and opium was called theriac, malideh, or afiun by the Persians. The failure to mention opium in any of the Persian texts until the sixth century a.d. is explained. The Arabs are credited with the dissemination of knowledge to various parts of the world. Cultivation of opium poppy spread throughout the Arab Empire during the seventh century a.d. Arabs used to call opium poppy “Abou-el-noum” meaning “father of sleep.” Cultivation of the poppy in Egypt developed during the Arab rule in the seventh century when it was cultivated in Alexandria and was exported not only to Europe but to India also.