Friday, August 2, 2019

Historical Facts About Watermelon

Blogger: Amber Schamel
One of my all time favorite things about summer is the ripe, sweet, red watermelon. Nothing quite says American Summer like a cold slice of watermelon. But have you ever thought about how long watermelon has been enjoyed? And by whom?

Here are a few fun facts on watermelon that will give you some conversation and trivia fodder for your next summer social. 

As it turns out, watermelon has been enjoyed for over 5,000 years. The first recorded watermelon harvest was inscribed in Egyptian hieroglyphics. It must have become a favorite of theirs too, because watermelons were buried in the tombs of the kings (including King Tut) for them to enjoy in the afterlife. The interesting thing about this particular hieroglyphic is that the watermelon depicted is not round like the wild fruit, but the familiar oblong of our domesticated varieties. 

The enjoyment of watermelon was not limited to Egypt, however, which is one of the reasons that the origin of the fruit is under debate. Archeologists have discovered watermelon seeds in an excavation of a settlement in Libya dating back over 5,000 years as well. The one thing they generally agree on is that the fruit originated somewhere on the African continent. 

Watermelon Harvest as depicted in Egyptian Hieroglyphics

One of the biggest discussions on the origin of watermelon is WHY a culture would cultivate them. The varieties that are believed to be the most ancient and original are anything but tasty, and hard. So what attracted people in Africa to this bitter fruit? One expert believes the key is in the fruit's name, "Watermelon". The fruit is 92% water and can be kept for weeks or even months under proper conditions. It is feasible to suggest that the Egyptians and African people wanted them as water sources. The other observation is that the watermelon fruit is also a cooling food, which would make it even more appealing for people in that climate.

From Africa, the fruit was cultivated, hybrid, and disbursed into other parts of the world. By the 10th century, watermelon had been introduced to China, who is now the world's largest producer of the fruit.

The Moors spread the fruit even further into Europe. 

So how did this delicious fruit finally make it here to the U.S.? It is commonly believed that watermelon was brought to the United States along with the slaves from Africa sometime during the 1600s. Early explorers used watermelon as canteens. 
17th Century Painting by Albert Eckhout depicting watermelon
(Public Domain)

Today, watermelon grows in 44 of our 50 states. The average American consumes over 15lbs of watermelon per year.

If you would like to learn more about the history of watermelon and how it progressed from bitter fruit to our beloved summer snack, check out this great article on National Geographic.


Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  She lives near Denver, Colorado near her favorite stretch of mountain range. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. What a fun post! I do love watermelon and it IS a quintessential summer flavor, isn't it? But I draw the line at watermelon-FLAVORED items. I don't find them appealing. Thanks for the fun facts today!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post, Connie! Thanks for stopping by.