In short

In contrast to cereals and pulses, the domestication of opium poppy has not been the studied in detail. Yet, it might be the sole plant species domesticated in Neolithic western Europe, during the end of the sixth millennium.

The project aims to investigate the early history of Papaver somniferum L. using complementary interdisciplinary studies. This project is based on pilot studies conducted on the potential application of radiocarbon dating and geometric-morphometric methods on opium poppy seeds.

Co-founded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), the project (2022-2025) brings together about 15 researchers from France, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland.

People and labs involved in the Poppy project

The project will address three specific issues:

  • Which species was the opium poppy’s wild progenitor?
  • Where and when was it domesticated?
  • How did its cultivation spread?

Using archaeological materials, as well as sampling of modern/historical biodiversity kept in seed banks and herbarium, this pioneering project involves several disciplines – archaeobotany, dating techniques, genomics, geometric morphometrics, and spatial analyses – to elucidate the role of the opium poppy in Europe’s natural and cultural heritage.

Overview of Poppy workpackages
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