Friday, January 27, 2006

Origins of the date palm (Gulf Daily News)
"The date palm Phoenix dactylifera dates back to the first Pharaonic dynasties and the ancient Egyptians called it 'Bennu', 'bnr or 'bnr.t'. These names were used for anything sweet but more significantly for the sun-bird which was assimilated to the exalted sun-god Ra. This association between the sun-bird and the date palm is testimony as to the indispensable role of this tree to their life. It is thought that the botanist, Theophrastus (c. 370-285 BC), named the date palm phoenix due to the colour of the dates being similar to the purple dye the Phoenicians were renowned for making from the 'Murex shellfish'. The Latin word dactylifera derives from the Greek word 'Dactylos', which means finger, for the shape of the dates and leaves. For the ancient Syrians and Hebrews this word referred to the date palm itself. Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish botanist, gave the plant this binomial name. The plant's place of origin has been a subject of great debate."
See the above web page for the full story.

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