Tuesday, September 07, 2021

History of lentils

Lentil is one of the oldest domesticated crops. The plant was given the scientific name Lens culinaris in 1787 by Medikus, a German botanist and physician.

Originating in southwest Asia, lentil has formed part of the human diet together with wheat and barley since the beginning of agriculture. However, the precise location(s) where this could have happened is still uncertain.

Lentil was first spread to the Nile from the near east, to Central Europe and then to the Indian Subcontinent and the Mediterranean Basin by the end of Bronze Age.

The carbonized remains of lentil dated to 11,000 BC from Greece’s Franchthi cave are the oldest known remains. Small seeded (2–3 mm) types were found at Tell Mureybit in Syria and have been dated to 8500–7500 BC.

By the 5th millennium BCE, lentil was already adapted to the colder and more humid environments of Central Europe, being cultivated by farmers of the Neolithic Linear Pottery Culture.

The archaeobotanical remains of lentil have been found in the excavations of the Harappan civilization covering the period of 3300–1300 BC. Beans related to the lentil and chickpea have been discovered which either arrived from the Fertile Crescent or which were grown in prehistoric times. Even today they are often used as an offering in funerary rights as in the Vedic ritual of shraddha.

In Australia, lentil is an established, high-value pulse crop, first grown commercially in 1994.

Lentil is mainly grown in the semi-arid regions of Victoria and South Australia with winter dominant rainfall patterns. Lentil consumption in Australia is gradually increasing however it is widely grown and consumed throughout the Mediterranean, the Indian subcontinent, southern Asia, and northern America.

An old traditional medicinal practice was the application of lentil paste to the skin to erase old skin disorders. In the sixth century, chickpeas were believed to be an aphrodisiac while lentils were considered to have the opposite effect. Probably, this was the reason that lentil was a part of the diet of monasteries during seasons when there was a low availability of meat.
History of lentils