In ancient Persia saffron was cultivated at Derbena and Isfahan in the 10th century BC.
There, Persian saffron threads have been found interwoven into ancient Persian royal carpets and funeral shrouds.
Saffron was used by ancient Persian worshipers as a ritual offering to deities.
It was also used as a brilliant yellow dye, a perfume, and a medicine.
Thus, saffron threads would be scattered across beds and mixed into hot teas as a curative for bouts of melancholy.
Indeed, Persian saffron threads, used to spice foods and teas, were widely suspected by foreigners of being a drugging agent and aphrodisiac.
Such was the fear of this that travellers to Persia were forewarned about eating saffron-laced Persian cuisine.
In addition, Persian saffron was dissolved along with sandalwood into water for use as a body wash for use after heavy work and perspiration under the hot Persian sun.
Later, Persian saffron was heavily used by Alexander the Great and his forces during their Asian campaigns. There, they mixed saffron into their teas and dined on saffron rice.
Alexander himself used saffron sprinkled in warm water as a bath.
He hoped that it would heal his many wounds, and his faith in saffron grew with each treatment.
The Greek soldiers, taken with saffron’s perceived curative properties, indeed continued the practice after they returned to Macedonia.
Saffron cultivation also reached what is now Turkey, with harvesting concentrated around the northern town of Safranbolu; the area still known for its annual saffron harvest festivals.
These Theran frescoes are the first botanically accurate pictorial representations of saffron’s use as an herbal remedy.