Sesame seed is tiny in size, but its savory taste and nutrition have been celebrated by humans for thousands of years. It’s also one of the most indispensable ingredients in many cuisines and pastries. Who discovered sesame, such a magical ingredient?
Found throughout history, mythology and sites of ancient civilizations, sesame appeared in the ancient civilizations of the Egyptian and Mesopotamia around 3000 to 4000 B.C.According to Osawa Toshihiko, professor at Aichi Gakuin University and former professor at Department of Food Science and Technology, Nagoya University, after thousands of years of variety improvement, most wild relatives of sesame are found in sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, he concluded that the origin of sesames is Africa. The theory raised by Professor Osawa is supported by many experts and scholars in the world.
Wild sesame, grown in the savanna zone of Africa, was discovered and eaten by humans who hunted around the area. Sesame seed became a source of oil, protein, and mineral supplements. The savory taste of sesame also surprised people in poor dining conditions who realized sesame’s “smooth and aromatic” taste.
As a result, sesame followed the steps of human migration and began to spread widely. It moved from the African savanna to the Sahara Desert, ending up in ancient civilizations in Egypt and Morocco in North Africa, then into Europe and Asia. Not until the great sailing era of the 17th century was sesame brought to the American continent for cultivation through the Atlantic slave trade by Europeans.