The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) probably originated in the Persian Gulf and it was a particularly important food source for the ancient African and Middle Eastern civilizations. Nomads used to carry dates on their travels through the deserts and planted the pits at oases they passed. Today, date palms are also grown in the Canary Islands, Pakistan, India, and the U.S. state of California.
Dates and figs were the main fruit-based sweeteners for the Ancients. Before refined sugar was developed, fresh and dried dates we