Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine, and ate them at harvest. Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fibre, and trace elements.