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Smoke in the eyes? Archaeological evidence for medicinal henbane fumigation at Ottoman Kaman-Kalehöyük, Kırşehir Province, Turkey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2015

Rohan S.H. Fenwick
School of Social Science, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia (Email:
Sachihiro Omura
Japanese Institute of Anatolian Archaeology, The Middle East Culture Centre in Japan, 3-10-31 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0015, Japan


The medicinal use of narcotics has a long history, extending back thousands of years, but installations for the ingestion of such substances are rarely preserved. One such installation was found in the Ottoman (fifteenth–seventeenth centuries) levels at Kaman-Kalehöyük, a multi-period settlement mound in central Turkey. Excavations of an Ottoman tandır or ventilated earth-oven have revealed a concentration of charred henbane seeds that suggest the hearth had been used for medicinal fumigation. Henbane smoke was a traditional treatment for relieving toothache and other maladies, but this is the first archaeological evidence for the practice in Asia.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2015 

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