Sesame Oil

The oil-plant sesame (Sumerian ĝeš-i3, Akkadian šamaššammū) was introduced in Mesopotamia from India and this important agricultural innovation

during the 23rd century when the empire of Akkade came into closer contact with the Gulf and Indus regions (A.1.1.25). Sesame was soon cultivated on the fields of Southern Mesopotamia (A.1.1.02, A.1.1.05, A.1.1.10). By the Middle Bronze Age it had become an agricultural staple product in Babylonia, the Middle Euphrates valley and Northern Mesopotamia (A.1.1.14, A.1.1.15).

The pressing of sesame oil (Sumerian i3-ĝeš, Akkadian ellum) can be reconstructed from lists of tools, including both grinding stones and wooden mortars (A.1.1.12, A.1.1.21, A.1.1.22). Sesame oil was used widely for anointing, and the residue product of the pressing process, the sesame oil cake, provided nutritious food.