So Let’s Talk Figs

Fans of literature like oh, say, the Bible probably already have a sense for how old the relationship between humans and figs is: at least as old as Adam and Eve, since fig leaves were supposedly used to make humankind’s first fashion statement. Some people in fact claim that the Tree of Knowledge was a fig (the Bible doesn’t expressly say) since the fig fruit, being composed of myriad tiny seeds enclosed within a single vessel, represented unity of understanding — knowledge or even enlightenment — among ancient peoples of the Mediterranean. But then there’s plenty of evidence outside scripture to testify to our longstanding love of the fig.

Modern archaeologists have lately demonstrated that the fig is almost certainly man’s first cultivated crop. Only two years ago the dessicated remains of dried, farmed figs were found in a village near ancient Jericho. The specimens, bearing clear evidence of botanical manipulation by man, dated back some 11,000 years — over a thousand years before grain (previously thought to be man’s first crop) is thought to have been grown. Quite a blow to the artisanal baking crowd, since it transferred bragging rights for mankind’s oldest profession (no, the other oldest profession) to horticulturists. That’s the way the whole grain cookie crumbles…

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