The part L.: denoting Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish botanist who brought this binomial name.
Phoenix: There are three explanations as to the etymology of
1. In Ancient Greece: It was the name of a legendary bird which haunted people's minds throughout antiquity and still exists in the religious and artistic traditions of the Far East. The Greeks described Phoenix bird as a wonderful bird which lived through periods of many hundred years. It was said that before dying, this bird built its own funerary pile, setting fire to it by fanning it with its own wings and eventually arose again from its own ashes.
2. In Ancient Egypt: The date palm was known from the first Pharaonic dynasties. The Egyptian legendary bird was the greedy heron which was so widespread in the Nile valley and they called it 'Bennu' bird Fig (1). This bird was found on the mural paintings which decorate the tombs of the kings and the nobles, this bird was assimilated to the great 'Sun-God' 'Ra' and the sun itself. The terms 'Bennu', 'bnr', 'bnr.t' were also applied to the date palm fruit and to every thing sweet. The date palm was linked in ancient Egypt to the sun-bird and they giving both the same name indicating the importance of this tree to their life (Bircher,1990).
3. In Theophrastus' days: (The famous botanist; 370-285 BC): There was Phoenicia which was the narrow coastal strip between the Mediterranean sea and the Jordan valley which is now 'Israel' and a part of 'Lebanon'. This region was inhibited with a population with famous purple colour from the Murex shellfish, this colour called 'Phoenix' in their language. Theophrastus may derived the word 'Phoenix' and gave it to date palm fruits which appear purple on ripening (Bircher,1990).
Dactylifera: This latin term was derived from the Greek word 'Dactylos' which means finger. According Linnaeus this was meant tall and slender form. This word was used by ancient 'Hebrew' and Syrian names for date palm itself.
1. Old stone-age period: The earliest date palm finds recovered from Egypt was a date palm trunk found in Kharga Oasis (western desert). The sample was dated back to the old stony period.
2. Predynastic period: In Ruzikate (Sharkia province ) the excavations revealed a mummy robed with date palm leaves, in a site dating back to Predynastic period (c.3500 BC; Bircher, 1990). Fleshy part of date palm fruits was detected among the plants, identified from a beer cocktail excavated from a vat in Hierakonpolis site (upper Egypt). The site dated back to Predynastic period (3450 BC.). This was the earliest sample used as reference for usage of date palm for beer sweetening (Amer, 1994). However Darby, et al (1977) mentioned that date palm was used in Ancient Egypt for Beer sweetening.
3. Dynastic period: "In a clean place shall I sit on the ground.
Beneath the foliage of a date palm of the goddess Hathor..." The Egyptian Book
Date palm seeds were excavated among the botanical remains recovered from Abu Sir (Giza) tombs. These were used as mortuary offerings; the site dating back to the king's 'Down' family belonging to the first dynasty (c. 2950 BC; Annual report, 1992). The columns' crowns of king 'Sahure' in Saqqara were decorated with palm leaves Fig (2). A small date palm tree was found in Saqqara tomb dating back to the first and early second dynasty (c.2850 BC. ). Date was mentioned under the name 'Bnrit' among the decoration of 'Nfer-Mehat' tomb in Midoum dating back to fourth dynasty (c.2600 BC.). Rocky stones decorated with palm tree were found in 'Ra Or' tomb in Giza and 'Betah Hotop' tomb in Saqqara from the fifth dynasty (c.2400 BC; Nazir, 1970). Date palm trees were cultivated around a rectangular swimming pool in 'Rakh Me Ra' garden; this decoration was depicted on his tomb walls (Nazir, 1970). In Tel-El Amarana eighteenth dynasty (c.1580 BC.); the garden in the magnificent temple of priest 'Meri Ra', was decorated with various types of trees; the most notable ones were: date palm, dome palm, in addition to fig and pomegranate (Nazir, 1970). Date palm trees were cultivated in the nobles and kings gardens. Anna's (Ineini), who was the keeper of cereal storage bins in 'Amon Hotob' the first era (New kingdom). The walls of his tomb were decorated with a paints representing his house garden. The names and the numbers of the cultivated trees were written too. There were twenty plant species among of them: seventy three fig trees; thirty one persa trees; one hundred and seventy date palm trees; one hundred and twenty dome-palm trees all these were cultivated around a large rectangular swimming pool( Nazir,1970). Some representative drawings are outlined in Figs(3, 4,5&6).
4. Graeco-Roman period: Date palm seeds were excavated from Douch Necropolis (Kharga Oasis-western desert); the site was dating back to Graeco-Roman period, 350 AD (Wagner,1982 and Barakat 1986).
5. Roman period: Large number of date palm seeds were excavated from Abu-Sha'ar site (Red sea coast); the site dating back to Roman period (c.500 AD.). The excavated seeds were morphologically sorted into five categories it was believed that these seeds were belonging to different desertic date palm cultivars.
Date palm preservation:
Date palm fruits were preserved in Ancient Egypt by two methods:
1- The simplest method: It was by drying the fruits in a direct sun light for two or three days and left at shaded place till become completely dried to be in 'Tamr' form. A representative sample of this method was deposited in Agricultural Museum, Cairo; the sample dating back to eighteenth dynasty and excavated from 'Tibba' (Upper Egypt).
2- The second method: It was applied to date palm fruits with higher moisture content than the previous method. This method was performed by pressing a large number of date fruits in basket made of date palm leaves for several days. The resulted date was called 'Agua'. A representative sample was deposited in Agricultural Museum, Cairo (No. 39897); the sample dating back to the New Kingdom. Both methods are still used in Arab countries for date preservation.
Ancient date industries
Ancient Egyptians used palm trunks for roofing and leaves for basket making (Fig 9; Nazir,1970; Darby, et al, 1977). Leaves were used for manufacture of sandals (Fig 10) especially for the priests and the temple's workers to whom animal substances were not allowed (Nazir,1970). There were three hundred and sixty date palm products mentioned by Wilkinson (1854). Among of these products a special type of wine known as 'Araqe', which is still manufactured in rural areas of Egypt (Nazir,1970). Date palm wine was mentioned on two ostraca of the nineteenth dynasty in the Cairo Museum. Pliny was cited that date palm wine was made throughout all the countries of the East; which probably was meant to include Egypt (Lucas and Harris,1962).
2. TRADITIONS: Christians have never ceased to adorn their churches with palm leaves for the celebration of the last Sunday before Easter. Beneath the domes of Ancient Coptic churches or the double towers of more recent ones, palm Sunday still commemorated with rituals dating back to the first centuries of Christian faith. Palm fronds are everywhere: In the sanctuary above the screen separating the officiating priest from the faithful as well as in the hands of the worshippers. Palm leaves were also carried by every attendant of the solemn morning procession, along with fragments of fronds the leaflets of which had be painted into various decorative shapes (Bircher,1990). Palm groves surround the fortress-like desert monasteries; some of them were the sites of the very first convents ever built and where the embittered monks had faced constant danger of pillage, depredation and death. Dates were mentioned sparsely as Coptic remedies, once in a poultice with other ingredients for stomach ache (Darby, et al 1977).
3. LEGENDS: There are some charming legends concerning the Divine Child and the date palm based on Bircher(1990): One of them is connected with the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt. They having left their country in great haste and utter anguish. Saint Joseph and the virgin Mary had taken no food with them on their way. As they entered the palm groves of Egypt. One of these fine date bearing trees gently bent its head towards them; inclining it so deeply that could feast on the delicious fruits while the cherubs who were seated on the fronds welcomed them by singing and wishing them peace.
Another legend is connected with Saint Christophorus, the patron-Saint of travelers and car-drivers: As the Holy Family was preparing to cross a river, a man called Christophorus took the infant Jesus on his board shoulders and carried him safely across the water. But the tiny child proved to be so heavy that he would have broken down under its weight... for with him he was carrying the burden of the entire world... had he not been able to lean on his staff which was made from the midrib of palm frond ... As they reached the shore the Divine infant told Christophorus to thrust his staff into the soil. The man obeyed and the sticks sprouted into a wonderful date palm. From that time Christophorus become a convert and lived a saintly life ever after.
Palm tree was mentioned in Qora'n (the book of books) twenty times. On
fifteen occasions it is mentioned among other plants in a God's bounty towards
the human race. Qora'n statements will mentioned according to Ali (1934) and
verified with ( English copy by International group for computer systems,1995 ).
----"It is He who sendeth down rain from the skiers: with it We produce vegetation of all kinds: from some We produce green (crops), out of which We produce grain, heaped up (at harvest); Out of the date palm and its sheaths (or spathes) (come) clusters of dates hanging low and near". (An' âm 99)
---"It is He who produceth gardens with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in variety). ((An'âm 141)
---"Set forth to them the parable of two men: For one of them We provided two gardens of grape vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed corn-fields." (Kahf 32)
---(Pharaoh) said:"Believe ye in him before I give you permission ? Surely this must be your leader who has taught you magic ! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm trees: So shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment" (Tâ -Hâ 71)
---"And corn-fields and date palms with spathes near breaking (=with the weight of fruit ( Shu'arâa 148)
---"And tall (and stately) palm trees, with shoots of fruits stalks, piled one over another". (Qâf 10 ) ---"Plucking out men as if they were shoots of palm trees torn up (from the ground)". (Qamar 20)
---"Therein is fruit and date palms, producing spathes (enclosing dates)". (Rahmân 11)
---"In them will be fruits, and dates and pomegranates" (Rahmân 68)
---"So that thou couldst see the (whole) people lying prostrate in its (path): As if they had been roots of hollow palm trees tumbled down!" (Hâqqa 7) ---"And produce therein corn And grape and nutritious plants And olives and dates" (Abasa 27-29)
---"And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree: She cried (in her anguich): Ah ! would that I had died before this ! would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight ! (Maryam 23)
---"And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm tree it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee". (Maryam 25)
---"Does any of you wish that he should have a garden with date palms and vines and streams flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruits". (Baqara 266)
---"And the earth are tracts (Diverse though) neighboring and gardens of vines and fields sown with corn, and palm trees growing out of single roots or otherwise: Watered with the same water ". (Ra'd 4)
---"With it He produces for you corn, olives, date palm, grapes and every kind of fruit". (Nahl 11)
---"And from the fruit of the date palm and the vine, ye get out whole some drink, and food: be hold in this also in a sign for those who are wise". (Nahl 67)
---''Or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst carrying abundant water" (Bani-Isrâ'il 91)
---"With it We grow for you gardens of date palms and vines: In them have ye abundant fruits: And of them ye eat (and have enjoyment) (Mu-minun 19 )
---"And We produce therein orchards with date palms and vines and We cause springs to gush forth therein". (Yâ-Sin 34)
---"A good word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens" (Ibrahim 24)
Annas said that the Prophet Mohammed said about this goodly tree that: This tree is the date palm tree (El Nadawi,1994).
II. Date palm in the Prophet Mohammed's speeches and life:
---Abd Alla Ebn Omar Said that "Prophet Mohammed said that: Among the trees there is one with non-fallen leaves, it's similar to the muslim; think about it" .The Muslims said that:That is date palm tree.
---Salama Bent Kais said that "Prophet Mohammed said that: Feed women with Tamr after their delevary (on puperium stage); whose feeds on Tamr her child grow up most merciful; it was the food of virgin Mary in Juses birth. If the God knows other best one 'He' had to feed her on it"
---Soliman Ebn Amer El Dabbi said that "Prophet Mohammed said that:: If one eats one eats after fast, it is preferably to eat Tamr if not available, her drinks some water it is cleared and pure".
---Annas said that " Prophet Mohammed had eaten Rutab after fast and before his prayers, if no Rutab he eats Tamr if no Tamr, he drinks some water ".
---Eisha (Prophet Mohammed's wife) said that: "A house free from Tamr their owner hungry".
---Eisha said that " Prophet Mohammed said that: Excellent Agua has a curative effect".
---Eisha said that "Prophet Mohammed had named Tamr and Milk, the two best(best among all food)".
---Emam Musleim was mentioned that:" Abd Alla Ebn Ghfar had seen the Prophet Mohammed eats cucumber with Rutab".
---Ebn Ody said that: Ali was mentioned that:"Prophet Mohammed Said that: The best of your Tamr is 'Berni' it is curative". Or Abi Hourira Said that " Prophet Mohammed said that: 'Berni' is curative and free from infection".
---Saad said that "Prophet Mohammed said that: Whose eat seven fresh Tamr fruits at breakfast, he gets over magic and poison on that day" .
III. Date palm and the Prophet Mohammed legends:
Based on Gaber Ebn Abd Alla who said that: "the Prophet Mohammed was standing next to a date palm trunk during his prayers. One day a woman offers a seat to the Prophet to sit on it; when Mohammed is sitting on this seat the date palm trunk was crying sadly for missing the Prophet's support" (Sawan,1993). Another interesting legend was mentioned by Abn Abas who mentioned that "An Arabian man came to the Prophet Mohammed and said to him, 'how can I know that you are the Prophet of God?' Prophet Mohammed answered that: 'I can call the date fruits from that tree to come down', and so he did; after that he ordered the date fruits to return up again and be reconnected to the tree; the fruits did. Then the Arabian man believed that the Prophet Mohammed is the Prophet of God" (El-Nadawi,1994).
IV-Ancient Islamic traditions and habits:
1. A great multitude of Ansar (Madina inhabitants, who believed with
Mohammed) were celebrating the Prophet Mohammed coming and met him in Madina
border terraces with palm leaves; they cried with load voice " A'la Akber"
2. Qura'n was written in Ancient times on palm leaf bases: After the death of Prophet Mohammed; Omar and Abu Baker (the Prophet friends and his followers) were ordered Zeid Ebn Thabet to collect Qura'n words: Zeid said that: I started to collect it from the date palm leaves and whose know it ".
3. Madina mosque: The Mosque in it the Prophet Mohammed was buried, it was the first Islamic Mosque built in Madina after Prophet Mohammed and his followers migrated to it. The earlier achitectures of this Mosque were made of mudbricks and palm fronds, the columns were made of palm trunks, the area in which Prophet Mohammed was buried is still surrounded with decorated palm sticks. The houses of Prophet Mohammed's wives were made of palm leaves and palm trunks in addition to mudbricks (El-Nadawi, 1994).
Many authors were treated of the uses of date palm in folk medicine; some of these preparations were cited in old medicinal dictionaries, some others still handled in rural areas everywhere in Arab region. Among these authors were Qabani (1973); Darby, et al (1977); El Gameli (1983); Qudama (1985); Manniche(1989); Aref(1991); Famuyiwa, et al (1992); Abd El Hamed (1994) and Abd El Salam and Askar (1994). Based on these references some common folk preparations of dates are cited here.
The decoction of the fruit was used to treat bronchitis, cough and colitis as well as its uses as expectorant. In addition to its uses as an emollient, in gout and blood pressure cases.
1. Tamr is remedy for potassium deficiency diseases; Tamr is a general
restorative if eaten as a daily food. Tamr treats the cardiac disorder
especially after diarrhea and vomiting or after diuretic medications.
2. Tamr as lactagogue: Tamr containing Potassium; Glycine and Threonine; which activate the milk hormone (prolactin). Tamr acts as lactagogue if it is used in daily feeding of a woman in her lactation period.
3. Tamr as aphrodisiac:
i. Remedy of tamr mixed with milk and cinnamon is aphrodisiac and activates the formation of sexual desire.
ii. A breakfast meal composed of black bread and cooked yolk (seven eggs) with 100 gram Agua (or tamr ý) and 15 gram margarine is aphrodisiac food. This breakfast must followed with a cup of milk or carrot juice thus activates the sexual behavior.
4. Date and tumors: Feeding on tamr increase the body immunity and resistance to cancer diseases. Estron hormone is extracted from date kernels (seeds) and treated chemically to obtain 'stradiol' which can be used for cancer treatment.
5. Date and abscesses: A remedy of warm Agua paste (or tamr paste) and margarine is applied externally on the abscesses. The remedy is analgesic and a local antipyretic.
6. Date and skin allergy: Remedy of tamr paste in water is antihistaminic, the remedy is externally applied to the skin. Food containing tamr is sedative to allergy. Zinc is the active ingredient inducing allergic inhibition.
7. Date and poisonous bites: Prophet Mohammed said that: The direct external use of tamr past on the poisonous bites gets rid of its poisonous effect.
8. Date and muslim's fasting: Muslims in the fasting month (Ramadan) start their meals with tamr soaked in water for a period ranging from 3-12 hours. Soaked tamr containing a soluble sugars which are absorbed in 5 minutes from the soft tissues of the digestive tract. Tamr sugars recompansate the loss in the level of blood sugar during the fasting period (Famuyiwa,et al .1992).
9. Date and delivery: The consumption of tamr as ingredient of the daily meals of a woman after and before her delivery is acting as tonic for uterine muscles. In addition to its help activating the delivery process as well as prevent the post delivery bleeding due to the presence of constricting substance in tamr; the quiet typical example for this case Virgin Mary delivery and her feeding on tamr.
10. Date and pediatric anxiety: A child consumes seven dates (tamr) daily; is a remedy for anxiety and nervous disorders.
11. Date and ascaris: Daily dosage of seven dates Agua before sleeping kills ascaris worms due to its dysentery effect.
12. Date stones and eyes: The burned date seeds (stones) were powdered and added to 'kohl' (50%/50%; wt/wt). The remedy improve the ophthalmia and activate the growth of eye lashes.
13. Date and chest infection: A remedy used for throat and chest infections is: 50 gram tamr, 50 gram fig, 50 gram hibiscus and 50 gram dried grapes ( fruits). The mixture boiled in one liter water. The remedy is one dosage three times daily; it is recommended as an expectorant.
14. Date and renal calculei:
i. A cup of hot tamr decoction (seven tamr) two times daily for a period of 15 days; the remedy is lithonotryptic and diuretic.
ii. A drink made from powdered date stones with dosage three times daily, is lithonotryptic for hepatic and renal calculei.
15. Date and dehydration: Tamr decoction free from fibrous material is added to some table salt to recompensate for water and mineral loss. This remedy used to treat the dehydration resulting after vomiting and diarrhoea.
16. Date and hemorrhoids: The continuous feeding on tamr relief the hemorrhoids pains and increase the body resistance to this disease. The calcium, phosphorus and iron of dates are active ingredients in treatment of hemorrhoids.
17. Date and obesity: A daily meal containing tamr and almond or peanuts activate the person obesity.
18. Date and dermatitis: A medicinal soap made of powdered date stones, fats, alkali and antimicrobial substance is used for treatment of skin allergy and acrodermatitis.
19. Date and gout: A researches on tamr stones (seeds) were carried out in Egyptian Institute of Medicinal researches. The researches revealed that a coffee made from powdered tamr stones drunk twice daily relieves the gout pains.
20. Date and bronchial asthma: Decoction of tamr and fenugreek if drunk twice daily is recommended in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
21. Date and hyperacidity: Tamr or Agua when added to the food gets rid of stomach hyperacidity as well as blood acidity.
22. Date and general health: Mixture of 50 gram nuts (pinus + hazel nut + almond + walnut) and 50 gram of tamr were added to 15 gram margarine. The mixture is a dosage of one spoon (10 gram) before breakfast followed with a cup of hot Chamomil decoction. The mixture has general benefits for health and activity especially cardiac muscles and nervous system in addition to its increase of body immunity.
23. Date and renal disorder: Tamr is a renal restorative; its daily consumption prevent the formation of renal calculei due to its diuretic and anti-inflammatory actions.
24. Date and night blindness: the daily consumption of tamr in meals and its decoction as eye-lotion help in maintenance of eye hygiene and remedy curative to the night blindness and ophthalmia.
25. Date is a hygienic fruits: Date (tamr, Agua and Rutab) cannot transfer the infectious germs. Tamr were mixed with germs of Cholera (100-1000 times as noticed in the waste of infected persons) after three days the tamr under investigation were completely free from Cholera germs.
26. Palm and stomach bleeding: A remedy composed of the terminal bud of palm tree (Gomar) and honey for daily breakfast gets rid of stomach bleeding. The breakfast must be followed with a cup of Chamomile decoction.
27. Palm and depression: A decoction of palm leaf sheaths (fibrous sheath) sweetened with fructose sugar and drunk twice daily is efficient as an anti-depression drug.