Date palm and date palm inflorescences in the Late Uruk period (c. 3300 B.C.): botany and archaic script

Marcin Paszke


The earliest evidence suggesting the human utilisation of wild date palm fruits in the Near East is dated to the sixth and fifth millennia B.C. Despite the lack of archaeological data, it is commonly believed that at the end of the Late Uruk period (c.3300–3100 B.C.) the Sumerians established the first date palm plantations. Nevertheless, this belief has never been well-proven by any scientific data, which makes this issue open to debate. This article points to the images of the date palm known from the pictographic script from Uruk as an important source of botanical data—a concept which has never been discussed in the literature—and elaborates on the phenotypic traits of thePhoenix dactylifera L.discernible there. It aims to establish the level and condition of horticultural knowledge of the cultivators of the date palm tree in the late fourth millennium B.C.Many of the botanical traits found on the date palm pictographs are noteworthy, especially where the morphology of the crown, trunk, and root zone are concerned. Most importantly, the identification of pictographs representing date palm inflorescences prompts us to the conclusion that the Sumerians discovered the dioecious nature of thePhoenix dactylifera L., selecting the staminate inflorescences to pollinate female trees by at least c. 3300 B.C. The discovery of this method of artificial fertilization was a turning point in Mesopotamian agriculture since it enabled farmers to obtain a better crop while economizing on space and labour, constituting the beginning of the date palm plantations that are still such a feature of present-day Iraq.
Author Marcin Paszke (FH / IAiE)
Marcin Paszke,,
- Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii
Journal seriesIRAQ, ISSN 0021-0889, e-ISSN 2053-4744, (N/A 70 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.9
Languageen angielski
Paszke_Marcin_Date_palm_and_date_palm_inflorescences_in_the_late_uruk_period_c_3300_bc_botany_and_archaic_script_2019.pdf 1.28 MB
Score (nominal)70
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 70.0, 14-02-2020, ArticleFromJournal
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