According to legend, Alexander the Great first came across the sugar cane from India and his generals bought it back with them but it was not cultivated for use at the time. It is said that Nearchus, one of Alexander's admirals, reached for the cane and tasted it and exclaimed, "India has canes that make sugar without bees".
Alexander's triumphant progress was halted on the banks of the Indus River by the refusal of his troops to go further east. They saw people in the Indian subcontinent growing sugar and making granulated "salt like powder", locally called "Sarkara" (ζάκχαρι). On their return the Macedonian soldiers carried the "honey bearing reeds" home with them. Sugar remained an unknown crop in Europe for over a millennium. Eventually it came as a cultivated product by Christopher Columbus. Venice at the height of its financial power was the chief sugar-distributing centre of Europe, sugar was a rare commodity, and traders of sugar became very wealthy.