THE HISTORY OF THE DATE
The date palm tree, Phoenix Dactylifera, is one of the oldest fruit trees in
the world. There are hundreds of varieties of dates with hundreds of different
names, with varying degrees of sweetness and storage qualities. Among the more important dates for the
desert people are the driest dates which have characteristics that allow
it to be used as a type of flour. The most widely grown date is the Deglet
date palm tree has been around for thousands of years and is referenced
in the in ancient scripts and it is referenced by western and middle
eastern religions. It is known that dates were cultivated about six
thousand years ago and they are mentioned in the Careen and Bible. Islam regards the date palm tree as the
tree of life which is mentioned in the story of Genesis. The date is not as well known in the
west as other fruits such as the apple, but it is very important to the
Middle East and the Sahara Desert. The fruit is very important in the
Arabian and North African Countries because the date palm tree grows well
in the dry desert heat. In the past dates took a very important role for
certain desert regions as the staple food crop. It was comparable to rice, wheat, and
potatoes in other cultures.
The date palm is a perennial, the
females of which normally begin to bear dates within an average about
four to years from the time of planting of the offshoot. The date palm
tree can live to the age of 150 years. On a commercial scale, the top date producing regions are the
Middle East and North Africa. Iraq was growing about 80 percent of the world's dates and it was a strong
symbol used in its currency and stamps. Saudi Arabia
is another major producer of dates and their national symbol also has
date palm trees. The same is true for Tunisia and Algeria which also portray the date on their stamps and currency.
are now grown in Southern California, Southwestern Arizona, north of Las Vegas, Nevada in parts of Mexico, Southern Peru,
northern Chile in South America, near Alice Springs in Australia, Western China, Western India, southern
Pakistan and Iran is now thought to be the world's No. 1 producer of dates.
to the World Food and Agricultural Organization, there are an estimated
100 million date palm trees worldwide.
An estimated 62 million date palm trees can be found in the Arab
world. It is not known where the
date palm tree originated.Some
experts believe that date palm first originated in Babel Iraq, while others
believe that it originated in Dareen or Hofuf,Saudi Arabia or
Harqan, an island on the Arabian Gulf in Bahrain. To date intensive
research pertaining to the origin, biology and habitat of the tree has
not identified the original home of the date palm tree and no wild date palms have been identified
records show that the date palm tree was widespread throughout the Mediterranean during the Eocene period. Unlike other fruit trees there is very
little information on of wild date palm trees. The earliest recorded information
describes the date palm tree as a cultivated tree. Since the time that writing first emerged
date palm Trees were described as cultivated trees. Date palm trees are recorded as
cultivated trees from the times of ancient Mesopotamia
about six thousand years ago.
There are no records showing where the date palm trees had
originated from. There are no
records either to show how it is that the complicated cultivation process
came about. Ancient seeds from
wild date palm trees have been found in the Shanidar Cave of Northern
Iraq. These date seeds are
estimated to be about 50 thousand years old?
experts believe that the date palm tree originated in the Euphrates-Tigris Valley. Semitic religious legends
identify the Euphrates-Tigris
Valley as the
location of the Garden of Eden.
Others believe the date palm tree came from Arabia.
special needs of the date palm tree lead botanists to believe that the
date palm tree originated in the ravines bordering the desert regions of Mesopotamia.
The climate was sufficiently hot and dry to permit the fruit to
ripen and at the same time there was plenty of water for the roots to
ancient Assyrian and Babylonia
civilizations left clay tablets that describe the date palm tree. Some Assyrian monuments and other works
of art depict the cultivation and pollination of the date tree. Some sculptures show the date groves
with date palm trees bearing fruit, as well as the trenches and basis
which provide the means for watering the groves.
these ancient cultures the date palm tree was regarded as a sacred tree
which was often used in religious rites and ceremonies. In at least one Assyrian relief a deity
is shown pollinating the date palm tree while holding a bucket on the
The History of the Date Part II