Date Palm’s exact origin is known to have lost in Antiquity. But cultivation of this wonderful fruit is stated to be around 4,000 B.C., right from the time of its being used to construct the moon god’s temple in Southern Iraq in Ur – Mesopotamia.
Further proof can be found in the Nile Valley of Egypt, where date palms were used as a symbol of a year, in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The historical remains found about the Babylonians, Akadians and Sumerians confirm the above. These ancient people had their houses roofed using palm tree fronds and trunks. Also were documented its food value and being used for medicinal purposes.
Its religious importance
Palm dates and dates have been mentioned in the Islamic, Christian and Jewish religions. The Jews are known to consider this fruit as among the 7 holy fruits. Also, they celebrate the festival Palm Sunday. The holiness of dates fruit can be found mentioned in 17 Suras of original 114 Suras, 20 verses of the 6,263 verses of The Holy Koran.
The date palm during biblical times was found common throughout Levant and Egypt, including modern Israel. Few ancient coins of Sidon and Tyre bore date palm images. According to legend, it as the date palm that was regarded to be the knowledge tree of evil and good, and it was the date which was offered generously offered as fruit Eve to Adam in Garden of Eden.
The origination of the date palm is not exactly known. It is believed to have come from India (Phoenix sylvestris L. Roxb.) or from tropical Africa (Phoenix reclinata Jacq), both or a hybrid of the two, however, bearing inferior fruits.
The cultivation of date palm as well as its spreading during the earlier centuries in two distinct directions:
- The first one to Iran from Mesopotamia, reaching the Indus Valley and Pakistan
- The other one moving towards Libya from Egypt, the Sahel and Maghreb countries.
The date palm’s original establishment in these countries were localized initially: Djerid/Tunisia; Souf/Algeria; Tidikelt, Saoura, Oued Rhir; Tafilalet/Morocco and Draa Valleys; Adrar/Mauritania.
It got introduced to the south into Tassili/Mali; Adrar of Iforas; Djado-Kaouar/Niger and Borkou-Tibesti/Chad.
It was the enhanced irrigation techniques of those times, which had made possible the establishment of oases and date plantations. During the final centuries of the current era was initiated in the Sahara, this very establishment. It was only during the 5th and 6th centuries that optimum growth was reached with Zenets and Botros, when commercial trade became common through the Sahara using camels.
The date palm’s old world tends to stretch to the south from north (± 2,000 km) and to the west from east (± 8,000 km). The date palms according to the industry experts are known to cover an area of about 3% of the cultivated surface of the world.
The fact is that since olden times, the demand for good quality dried dates has been increasing across the globe with time and there are several varieties present in the market to cater to the growing demand.