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Scholar traces history of Jordan almonds

By Maria Weldali - Jul 18,2021 - Last updated at Jul 19,2021

The candy-coated almonds, commonly known as ‘Jordan almonds’, which are often eaten at celebratory events, have a deep connection to Jordan’s history and culture, according to a Jordanian historian (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — The candy-coated almonds, commonly known as “Jordan almonds”, which are often eaten at celebratory events, have a deep connection to Jordan’s history and culture, according to a Jordanian historian.

Muhammad Waheeb, a Jordanian historian and Professor of Archaeology at the Hashemite University, said that the candy-coated almonds can be found around the world, “but originated in Jordan”. 

“Jordan’s oral tradition, tangible heritage, archaeological excavations and the plethora of sugar mills in the area all clearly indicate that the bite-sized, sugar-coated almonds originated in Jordan,” Waheeb said.

“There are 32 sugar mills in the Jordan Valley,” Waheeb stated. 

The significance of almonds to Christianity is also evidence linking the almonds to the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ on the East Bank of the Jordan River, Waheeb added.

According to Waheeb, almonds are the future of the Kingdom’s agritourism.

Waheeb, who began studying Jordan’s almonds in 2020, pointed out that the Jordanian almonds are among the oldest almond trees in the world. 

The choices of delights and sweets are endless, but the “instantly familiar” sugared almonds are part of every festivity, which emphasises their deep meaning in Jordan’s culture and heritage. 

“In weddings, five almonds signify five wishes for the couple: Health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity,” Waheeb said.

Jordanian almonds reached Europe through various trade routes, particularly the Incense Trade Route.

Many scientists and historians said that Jordanian almonds were brought to Europe during the Crusades. Crusaders brought sugar back to Europe from the Holy Land, according to Waheeb. 

Jordanian almonds originated in Shobak, Karak and the Jordan Valley, said Waheeb, also noting the archaeological and laboratory evidence demonstrating that the almond trees are almost 7,000 years old. 

“ Archaeological evidence also shows that almond seeds were planted during the Bronze, Iron, Classical and Islamic ages in Jordan,” according to a study Waheeb published.

“Many scientists tried to separate Jordan from the long history of the universally known almonds, but the very clear archaeological and historical evidence keeps showing the world the truth,” Waheeb concluded.

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