A crossdisciplinary project on opium poppy

The project aims to define a chrono-cultural framework for the early domestication of the Opium Poppy and its dispersal from Prehistory to the end of the Iron Age (6000-50 cal BC) in Europe and Southwest Asia. This project began in 2018 with the obtaining of funding from the Fyssen Foundation (coord. A. Salavert, MNHN, France) and the Agrichange project (coord. F. Antolin, univ. Basel, Switzerland) has laid the foundation for a long-term collaborative project. Two grants have been obtained in 2022, ANR JCJC Poppy (France) and FTC DOPE (Portugal) to pursue this research. The project is based on archaeological material, as well as on a sampling of modern and historical biodiversity conserved in seed banks and herbaria. It uses multidisciplinary analyses – archaeobotany, dating techniques, genomics, geometric morphometrics (GMM), spatial analyses.

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Contribution of GMM to track domesticaiton process

A paper recently published in PlosOne showed the potential of GMM to address questions about poppy domestication, based on waterlogged archaeological poppy seeds. These seeds are the most direct and common evidence found on archaeological sites, unlike the capsules, which are rarely recovered. Seeds are therefore probably the only archaeological tool that can provide substantial, diachronic and geographically broad information on the domestication/cultivation process.

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