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About the picture: lithograph comes from an American encyclopedia of grocery, printed in 1911


Dates and date trees have appeared throughout culture and histories.

Dates and the Date Palm have been an essential part of the Middle Eastern diet and lifestyle for thousands of years.

Archaeological findings indicate that the first dates were cultivated  near the Eufrat river, ca. 6000 years ago. This also suggest that date palms are the oldest plants in the world, planted by man.

Bedouins used to rely on dates for sustanence, and were able to survive a few weeks with only dates and camel milk in the rough desert. Historically, the trunks and the palm leaves were used to build houses, furniture, baskets, ropes etc. and the fruit provided people in the desert with energy, plenty of healthy nutrients and vitamins to maintained functions of the body.  Therefore dates are called"Bread of the Desert".

The date palm also has a religious significance. It is the most mentioned plant in the holy Qur’an. It is regarded Sunnah to break one's fast with dates, as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), used to break his fast by eating one to three dates.  In Islamic traditions, the date tree is called"Tree of Life". 

Throughout the millennia cultivation of dates extend over the area of North Africa and Asia. With the Moors, about 700 AD the date came to southern Spain and by the Spanish they were taken to California in the 17th century.

This is why California is also known for its dates. Furthermore today cultivation can be found in Central and Latin America, South Africa, Australia and on some Greek islands in Europe.


Dates and date trees have appeared throughout culture and histories. The below Byzantine mosaic: "Three Wise Men from the East" are part of the mosaic on the left wall of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare-Nuovo. Ravenna, Italy which is more than 1,500 years old. Pay attention to the date trees in the background. 

Image from: Wikimedia Commons 


The importance of Date trees throughout history become evident in archeological findings and art that is centuries old, such as the Stone relief of Sargon, standing before a tree of life, dating back to 24th-23rd century B.C. 

Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

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