Egypt to Greece, where it was a staple food of both rich and poor. The fig was such a staple food that Egyptian armies are recorded as having cut down the figs and vines of their enemies, and whole baskets of figs have been discovered among the tomb offerings of dynastic kings.
Homer wrote of figs when he described the orchard of Alcinous, visited by Ulysses, which featured figs, olives, pomegranates, apples and pears.
The poet Alexis of Thuria in the 4th century celebrated the fare of the average Greek which included "that God-given inheritance of our mother country, darling of my heart, a dried fig." Cleopatra ended her life with an asp brought to her in a basket of figs.
The fig probably originated in Asia Minor, and has been highly regarded from the earliest times as a major contributor to the diets of many countries. Figs were one of the crops that became known in China during the T'ang dynasty which rose to power in the 700's BC. Its importance in Hellenic culture and economic life is second only that that of the grape and the olive.
Pliny the Elder (AD 23 - 79) records several stories about fig trees in Rome. He asserts that a sacred fig tree grows in the Roman Forum. Alluding to the myth that Rome was founded by the twins, Romulus and Remus, who suckled on a she-wolf, Pliny tells us that, "This tree is known as Ruminalis because the she-wolf was discovered beneath it giving her teats (rumis in Latin) to the infant boys."Another fig tree grows in the Forum where a chasm had opened up. Soothsayers had predicted that only by throwing Rome's greatest treasure into the chasm, would it be filled. Marcus Curtius, mounted on his noble steed, asserted that he would fill the hole with the greatest treasures - virtue, a sense of duty, and his own death. He leapt into the hole and the earth closed around him. According to legend a self-seeded fig tree sprouted here.
In the first half of the sixteenth century, the fig was brought to England by Cardinal Pole, a few years before Cortez introduced the tree to Mexico.
Today, the United States, Turkey, Greece and Spain are the primary producing nations of dried figs.