Dear Christin,

How interesting to hear about your find. 
I have myself found three Papaver somniferum seeds in a bronze age refuse(? - presumably) layer at  Gedved Vest in Jutland. I realise that this is some distance from Tromsö, but it may still be a useful reference for you. Unfortunately, since the layer turned out to be quite difficult to use for useful inferences, the find was never published in a peer-reviewed article, unlike most of the rest of the site. Because the layer was assumed to be representative of the earliest settlement phase on the site, however,  three barley grains from the same sample were dated, with a combined span of 808-539 BC (cal 2σ). The only reference I can give here is the excavation report, which I include with the mail (page 10).

This is the detailed 14C-data for the layer, only 1sigma dates are presented in the report:
Poz-44667	Hordeum vulgare	2515±30 BP	
Poz-44668	Hordeum vulgare	2565±35 BP	
Poz-44672	Hordeum vulgare	2565±35 BP	

When I found these seeds I became interested in whether there were other early finds of Papaver somniferum in Scandinavia. This is what I managed to scrape together then... although there is probably more:

Early opium poppy finds in Denmark have been reported from Lodbjerg (Jensen 1985) and Smedegård (Sabine Karg, pers comm), both sites are situated in northern Jutland and dated to the Pre-Roman Iron Age. 

From southern Sweden I managed to find two secure early finds, a house find from Skottorp in Halland (Artelius 1989; Viklund 1989) dated to 190 BC-AD 420 and a ritual deposition in a wetland at Sallerup in Skåne, dated to approximately 500 BC (Lindahl-Jensen et al 1995).

You can find the detailed references below the email.

I'm also attaching Lindahl-Jensens article with the email. I'm sure you have Jensen 1985 in your collections. The remaining two sources I got from Karin Viklund in Umeå, but apparently not in Pdf since I can't find them on my computer.

I hope this can be of some use to you.

All the best!
/Radoslaw Grabowski

Fil. Dr. i Mijöarkeologi/PhD in Environmental Archaeology
Umeå Universitet/Umeå University
Tel: +31615305342


ARTELIUS, T. 1989: Boplatslämning vid Skottorps Säteri. In: Artelius, T. & Lundqvist, L. (eds.): Bebyggelse – kronologi: boplatser från perioden 1800 f. Kr. – 500 e. Kr. i södra Halland. Nya bidrag till Hallands äldsta historia 2. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Undersökningsverksamheten, Stockholm, 7-17.  

JENSEN, K. A. 1985: Catalogue of Late- and Post-glacial Macrofossils of Spermatophyta from Denmark, Schleswig, Scania, Halland and Blekinge Dated 13 000 BP to 1536 AD. Danmarks Geologiske Undersøgelse.

LINDAHL-JENSEN, B., LAGERÅS, P. & REGNELL, M. 1995: A deposition of Bark Vessels, Flax and Opium Poppy from 2500 BP in Sallerup, Southern Sweden. PACT 50, 305-318.

VIKLUND, K. 1989. Skottorp. Rapport från Miljöarkeologiska Laboratoriet, Institutionen för arkeologi, Umeå Universitet, Umeå.

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Från: The archaeobotany mailing list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] För Christin Jensen
Skickat: 07 November 2014 10:51
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Ämne: SV: Papaver seeds

Dear Mark, Jennifer and Angela,

Thank you so much for your help!
P. somniferum was the species that we also thought most likely when looking at our reference collection, but dared not quite believe it due to the northern location and old age of the context. Exciting!

If any of you have some literature references on Papaver somniferum finds in northern Europe, I will appreciate it very much.

Best regards,


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Fra: The archaeobotany mailing list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] På vegne av Christin Jensen
Sendt: 6. november 2014 21:18
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Emne: Papaver seeds

Dear colleagues,
I wonder whether these seeds of Papaver may be identified to species level? They are found in the floor layer of a Bronze age house near Tromsö, Northern Norway (69 degrees North). Hopefully the quality of the photoes is good enough to see the pattern of more or less rectangular stripes (ribs) within the cells. I am very grateful to you for help with the identification. The size of the seeds is 1-1,3 mm.

Best regards,

Christin Jensen
Assoc. prof. in botany
University of Stavanger
Museum of Archaeology