The fig is one of the most ancient of trees. Archaeological excavations have found fossilized figs from the Cretaceous Period. There are hundreds of species of fig in the world. Two species were well known in the Ancient Near East: the Common Fig and the Sycomore Fig. The Egyptians cultivated the Ficus Sycomorus almost exclusively—Pliny the Elder called it the Egyptian fig in his Natural History where he described their method of gashing the fruit to ripen it. The smaller Ficus carica L. was more common in the Levant where it is pollinated by a wasp. Figs and fig wasps are dependent on each other, the figs are pollinated by the wasps that feed exclusively on figs. The fig tree was essential in ancient times for food, medicine and lumber.