The history of saffron cultivation and usage reaches back more than 3,000 years and spans many cultures, continents, and civilisations. Saffron, a spice derived from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), has remained among the world’s most valuable substances throughout history. With its bitter taste, hay-like fragrance, and slight metallic notes, saffron has been used as a seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine since it was discovered during the late Bronze Age.
Saffron In the Middle East:
Saffron-based pigments have been found in the prehistoric paints used to depict beasts in 50,000-year-old cave art in what is today Iraq. Later, the Sumerians used Saffron as an ingredient in their remedies and magical potions. However, Sumerians did not actively cultivate Saffron. They instead chose to gather their stores from wildflowers only because they felt that only divine intervention would enable saffron’s medicinal properties. Excavations in the entire area around the Mediterranean show that Saffron was one of the main trade products of the Minoan civilization. The wealth of the inhabitants of Crete and surrounding islands was therefore based for a considerable part on Saffron.
The quantities of Saffron harvested are described in detail on more and more clay tablets from a little later time. Many clay tablets have been preserved because they were unintentionally baked during fires and volcanic eruptions. Click Here to learn more.