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Humans began choosing wild plants that had long "stigmas". Experts believe that the first document to mention saffron is a 7th century BC Assyrian book about botany which was written in the time of Ashurbanipal.There is evidence for the use of saffron in the treatment of about 90 illnesses during the past 4,000 years.Planting is best done in fields that slope towards the sunlight (i.e.south-sloping in the Northern Hemisphere), giving the crocuses' more sunlight.

The wild plant from which the saffron crocus came was called Crocus cartwrightianus. sativus, came into being in the late Bronze Age Crete.In the Northern Hemisphere, planting is mostly done in June, with corms planted some 7–15 cm deep.Growers have found that planting corms 15 centimetres (5.9 in) deep and in rows spaced 2–3 cm apart makes more threads, whereas planting depths of 8–10 cm makes more flowers and corms.The 17.8 m monolith of Jain Tirthankara Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali, which was carved between 978–993 AD and is in Shravanabelagola, India.Every 12 years it is smeared with saffron by thousands of believers as part of the Mahamastakabhisheka festival.It is also important for the rain to fall at the right time of year: there should be a lot of rain in the spring and little in the summer.

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