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While archaeologists and botanists do not know the exact time and place where onions were first cultivated, written evidence suggests that it was first grown 5,500 years ago in Asia. It might have been an ordinary food but the moment it arrived in Egypt, ancient Egyptians worshiped the onion because they believed that its spherical shape and concentric ring represented eternity. Below are other remarkable facts that you may not know about one of the most widely used crops in the world:

Ancient Egyptians used onion for religious ceremonies

The onion is one of the most valuable funeral offerings for early Egyptians. Archaeologists found paintings of them inside pyramid walls and in the tombs of the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. Ancient Egyptian paintings also showed images of priests holding onions in their hands or altars covered with onion roots or leaves.

The mummification process required the use of onion

Archaeologists have discovered that the onion is an important part of the mummification process. Excavated mummies frequently contained onions in the pelvic regions, thorax, ears, and in the front of collapsed eyes.

Ancient Egyptians believed that onion was needed by the dead

Considering how ancient Egyptians view them and how they utilized them in burial ceremonies, Egyptologists believed that early Egyptians considered onions as having magical powers that can bring the dead back to life.

Some religious groups consider the crop as a forbidden vegetable

Buddhists, Jains, Orthodox Brahmins, and Hindu Widows considered onion as a forbidden vegetable because of its pungent scent and its ability to stimulate the senses. For Buddhist, specifically, the Buddha apparently forbade the consumption of onions since it can produce hormones and can negatively affect the liver, which would both lead to one’s inability to concentrate.

Roman gladiators were massaged with onions before fighting

Ancient Romans believed that onions can provide strength similar to gods, which was why gladiators were massaged with onions before stepping into the arena to fight.