Opium in the Ottoman Empire: Historical Notes
Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) has been cultivated in Anatolia since 2000 BCE. The clay tablets discovered in Hattusha, the capital of the Hittite Empire, give rather detailed information on the opium poppy and the opium production. In their itineraries, European travellers such as P. Belon (1517-1564), J. P. De Tournefort (1656-1708) and G.A. Olivier (1756-1814) relate the production of opium, and its use in the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish opium containing high quantity morphine, was regarded in Europe as the best quality of opium. Ottoman drugs were displayed in European exhibitions by the Ottoman pharmacists Francesco Della Sudda (1814-1866) and Giorgio Della Sudda (Fayk Bey, 1835-1913), where they were rewarded. G. Della Sudda took a collection of opium specimens to the 1867 Paris Exhibition, and also published a booklet on the opium production and trade in the Ottoman Empire on the occasion: Monographie des Opiums de l'Empire Ottoman Envoye´s a` l'Exposition Universelle de Paris.
Key words: Giorgio Della Sudda, opium, opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, Paris Exhibition of 1867, Turkish opium.