A. Species Selection The first cultivated fruits must have been indigenous species that had obvious human value. This is clearly seen in Egypt where the indigenous date palm was the earliest species cultivated, followed by a succession of introduced fruits such as the sycomore fig and pomegranate (Table 1). The earliest fruit culture in Mesopotamia included the date and olive (4000 BCE), grape, fig, and pomegranate (3 rd millennium BCE). Later fruits introductions, based on literary sources, include the apple, pear, quince, and medlar (Postgate 1987). The small-fruited Malus orientalis and Pyrus syriaca are indigenous to the Fertile Crescent but these were probably not the forerunners of domesticated apple and pear that were introduced from Western Asia probably via Persia. Contacts between East and West date from as early as 1000 BCE as evidence by silk strands on Egyptian mummies, but intensified with the incursions of Alexander the Great (356– 323 BCE). Thus, by Greek and Roman eras there was an infusion of Central and East Asian
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