ORIGIN OF DATES

These are the fabulous Mazafati fresh dates which are frozen to keep in top quality condition

Origin of the date

The exact origin of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is considered to be lost in Antiquity. However, it is certain that the date palm was cultivated as early as 4000 B.C. since it was used for the construction of the temple of the moon god near Ur in Southern Iraq - Mesopotamia (Popenoe, 1913; 1973).
More proof of the great antiquity of the date palm is in Egypt's Nile Valley where it was used as the symbol for a year in Egyptian hieroglyphics and its frond as a symbol for a month (Dowson, 1982). However, the culture of date palm did not become important in Egypt until somewhat later than that of Iraq (Danthine, 1937), about 3000 - 2000 B.C.
The above is confirmed by history, and corroborated by the archaeological research into ancient historical remains of the Sumerians, Akadians and Babylonians (Figure 17a). Houses of these very ancient people were roofed with palm tree trunks and fronds. The uses of date for medicinal purposes, in addition to its food value, were also documented.
In conclusion, date palm is probably the most ancient cultivated tree in the world. It could be safely assumed that the reason for mentioning dates and date palms in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions was due mainly to the influence of the Prophet Abraham, who was born and raised in the old city of Ur where date palms were grown. Ibrahim's love of the date and date palm left a lasting influence on these religions.
The Jews consider the date as one of the seven holy fruits and they celebrate Palm Sunday. But no other religion has stressed the holiness of the date and date palm as much as the Islamic religion. The Holy Koran mentioned date and date palm in 17 Suras (chapters), of the original 114 Suras and 20 verses of 6,263 verses. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) is reported to have said that the best property is date palm, that dates cure many disorders, and he urged Muslims to eat the date and tend the date palm. "And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water and three score and ten palms, and they encamped there by the waters". Elim was one of the oases where the Israelites set up camp during their flight from Egypt across the Sinai to the Promised Land, and the 70 palms mentioned in the book of Exodus, 45:27, were date palms.
During Biblical times, the date palm was common throughout Egypt and the Levant, including present-day Israel. Phoenicia, the name by which part of the Levant, particularly the portion including Tyre and Sidon, was known to the Romans and Greeks, means "land of palms". Some of the ancient coins of Tyre and Sidon bear the image of the date palm, as does a Jewish coin issued at the time of Judas Maccabeus, about 175 B.C. To commemorate the conquest of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D., the Roman emperor Vespasian issued a coin showing a weeping woman sitting beneath a palm tree.
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian, reported that during his time (First Century A.D.) there were still groves of date palms near Jericho, around the lake of Galilee, on the Mount of Olives, and in and around Jerusalem. In passing, it may be said here that the Hebrew word for the date palm is "tamar". It became the Jewish symbol of grace and elegance and was often bestowed by them on women, as for instance, the sister of Absalom, in allusion to their graceful, upright carriage. Even today, in Israel and other countries "Tamar," "Tamara," and "Tamarah" are often used as girls' names.
The legend is, that the date palm (not the apple tree) was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and that the date (not the apple) was the fruit Eve so generously offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Figure 17b). If the date palm was the tree of knowledge, Gabriel would not have suggested to Adam that he taste and eat the dates.
Where the date palm originated is not known. Although widely cultivated, no truly wild plant has ever been found. Its progenitor is believed to be Phoenix reclinata Jacq from tropical Africa, or Phoenix sylvestris (L). Roxb. from India, or a hybrid between these two. Both these species have palatable, although inferior fruits.
The spreading of the date palm and its cultivation occurred during the past centuries following two distinct directions:
- One starting from Mesopatamia to Iran, to reach the Valley of the Indus and Pakistan;
- The other starting from Egypt towards Libya, the Maghreb and Sahel countries (Figure 18).
The original establishment of date palm in these countries was initially localised: Tunisia/Djerid; Algeria/Souf, Oued Rhir, Tidikelt and Saoura; Morocco/Tafilalet and Draa Valleys; and Mauritania/Adrar.
To the south, it was introduced into Mali/Tassili, Hoggar and Adrar of Iforas; Niger/Djado-Kaouar; and Chad/Borkou-Tibesti.
The above date propagation in Africa was realised using the same itineraries as those of the Neolithic civilisation but with some delays. It is illustrated by the presence of Sudan date plantations around the Neolithic sites.
The establishment of date plantations and oases was made possible because of the development of irrigation techniques. This establishment in the Sahara was initiated during the last centuries before our era. The optimum development was only reached during the Fifth and Sixth centuries with Botros and Zenets when commercial camel traffic through the Sahara was made possible.
The old world of date palm stretches from east to west (± 8,000 km) and from north to south (± 2,000 km). According to Dowson (1982), date palm covers 3 % of the world's cultivated surface.
In the early years of the Nineteenth Century (1912), the date palm was introduced into the western part of North America (Colorado Desert, Atacama Desert and other regions).
At about 33° north in the American continent, date palm plantations were newly introduced in Southern California. Seven degrees (7°) further south, less important and older introductions are found in the lower California Peninsula of Mexico. Other few, small and recent