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Two thousand years and feeling young! History, archeology and fig processing

Fichi Neri freschi

The fig was found in some of humanity oldest archaeological sites. It is the longest-lived fruits on the planet and it is mentioned in different classical sources for its properties and about its processing in “crocette” like in Mediterranean and Calabrian tradition. The fig farming began in Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt and than was spread throughout Mediterranean field. Some researchers at Harvard University descovered that the fig was farmered about a thousand years before barley and wheat. The extraordinary discovery took place in Israel, in Gilgal archaeological site, an inhabited village approximately 11400 years. Here they discovered some chenes (fig seeds) and small parts of the fig completely burned. In light of this detection it is possible to think that the fig has orgin in the Middle East, even if, someone thinks it has origin in Western Asia. In Greece, the fig was a known and widespread fruit. It was possible to eat the dried fig throughout the year with barley bread and goat cheese, which often constituted a complete lunch. The writer and geographer Pausania tells about Holy fig of Eleusis, protected under an arcade. Many others philosophers and writers in their works reference to the fig. Fig processing seems to date back to distant era. The dried fig “crocette”, for example, have been known since ancient times, infact the classical authors describe them extensively in various works and citations, from Horace’s Satires to Columella’s naturalistic treatises. In Latin mithology the fig has some important charateristics, it seems to be sacred to Bacchus, god of sap and vital energy, but the fruit, swollen with juicy pulp, was claimed also by Priapus, gardens protector. In Greece and in Rome the fig was connected to the goat, in fact, the wild fig (respectively caprificus and tragos) had the same name of sacred animal.

Let remember, men, the life on a time that the goddess dispensed us, those braids of dried figs and fresh figs and myrtles and sweet wine and the flowerbeds of violets near the well and the olives that we so much regret!“.


(Aristophanes, La Pace, 569-579)

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