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The word hummus comes from the Arabic for chickpeas - ḥimmaṣ.

Chickpeas growing Chickpeas growing
Courtesy of the Grains Research and Development Corporation

Domesticated chickpeas predate pottery and turn up in Neotlithic sites from Southern France to Turkey but the oldest chickpeas were found at Jericho and date as far back as 8350-7370 BCE! Maybe they ate all the chickpeas before that?

Desi Chickpeas Desi and kabuli chickpeas

The oldest variety of chickpea is the desi form. Desi chickpeas are small, angular, and variegated in color. It is believed desi originated in Turkey and was introduced into India. The most common form of chickpea today is the kabuli which have large beige beaked seeds.

By the Bronze Age, chickpeas were known in Italy and Greece where they were called erébinthos and eaten as a staple, a dessert, or consumed raw when young. The Romans had varieties such as venus, ram, and punic. They were often cooked down into a broth or roasted as a snack. The Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes for chickpeas.

Chickpeas are mentioned in Charlemagne's Capitulare de villis (about 800 CE) as cicer italicum. Albertus Magnus mentions red, white and black varieties. Nicholas Culpeper noted "chick-pease or cicers" are less "windy" than peas and more nourishing. Ancient people associated chickpeas with Venus because they were said to offer medical uses such as increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine and helping to treat kidney stones.

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