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The birthplace of saffron (Greek Crocus) are Asian countries - India, Afghanistan, Iran and Azerbaijan. Saffron was known to peoples who lived 4000 years ago. It is mentioned in the literature of ancient peoples who lived in Asia Minor, Iran and Afghanistan.
The word "saffron" originates from the Arabic "azafran", which translates as "yellow-petal". Most likely, the etymology of the word is even older and goes back to the Sumerian "azupiranu". The first textual references to saffron can be found in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. The first written document testifying to the benefits of saffron is the scientific work "Assyrian Botany", written in the 7th century BC.
Eastern soothsayers used saffron in their mystical rites. In the countries of the East, the stigmas of saffron flowers were used as a spice to give some dishes a special taste and aroma. Saffron was also used as a dye. Information about this can also be found in the well-known work of the Iliad by the ancient Greek poet Homer. Along with other dyes, fabrics that were produced in the famous trading city of Ancient Phoenicia - Sidon, were also dyed with saffron. At the beginning of the 1st century AD, the ancient Roman writer Pliny in his work "Natural History" indicated that dyes obtained from saffron were used in the Arab countries.
Like cloves and peppers, saffron has bactericidal properties, so it greatly reduces the rate of bacterial growth and decomposition of organic matter, and saffron dishes can be stored for a long time.
Since ancient times, saffron has also been used as a medicine. In his works, the great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi gives some interesting information about the medicine of that time. One of the medicines that Nizami recommends is saffron, which at that time was used in the treatment of many diseases.
Saffron is still used in medicine today. In folk medicine, this plant is known as a cure for chickenpox, prostatitis, asthma, inflammation of the kidneys, eye and heart pain, goiter, rheumatism and other diseases. In recent decades, scientists have been conducting research on the benefits of saffron in the treatment of tumor diseases due to the selenium in its composition.
At one time, saffron was brought to Italy from Asia Minor, and from there to Spain. Then from Spain it was brought to Southern Germany and Austria-Hungary. Iran is the main producer of saffron. Thus, more than 65% of the total production of saffron in the world falls on the share of this state. In Europe, the leader in the production of saffron is Spain. This plant is also cultivated in the province of Kashmir (Pakistan), USA, Morocco, India, Mexico, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Egypt, Afghanistan and China.
On the territory of the former USSR, saffron was grown only in Azerbaijan, in the Saffron State Farm, located in the village of Bilgah of the Absheron Peninsula. By its quality, Azerbaijani saffron has gained fame not only in the post-Soviet space, but also in a number of foreign countries.
In recent years, the increase in saffron production and the implementation of appropriate measures to expand the sown areas have been given great scientific and practical importance.