Alfalfa is one of the earliest crops domesticated by man and has a long history.
Remains of alfalfa more than 6,000 years old have been found in Iran, and the oldest written reference for alfalfa is from Turkey in 1300 B.C.! Alfalfa has a long association with many ancient civilizations and continues to contribute to agriculture.
Alfalfa was likely domesticated near present-day Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus regions and other countries in Asia Minor. It was important to the early Babylonian cultures and to the Persians, Greeks and Romans. Both Aristotle and Aristophanes wrote about it. Alfalfa was reportedly brought into Greece about 500 B.C. by invading Median armies to feed their chariot warhorses. The Romans later acquired alfalfa and became known for their forage culture throughout the Mediterranean basin in the ancient world, for alfalfa was tied to military might.
In 126 B.C., the emperor of China dispatched an expedition to the Near East to collect specimens of the highly prized Persian horses, at which time alfalfa was brought to China. It contributed greatly to Chinese agriculture and is still widely grown there today.