The New York Times has an interesting article about Israelis managing to harvest dates from the famous Judean date palm, planted with seeds that are over 2000 years old:
The plump, golden-brown dates hanging in a bunch just above the sandy soil were finally ready to pick.They had been slowly ripening in the desert heat for months. But the young tree on which they grew had a much more ancient history — sprouting from a 2,000-year-old seed retrieved from an archaeological site in the Judean wilderness.“They are beautiful!” exclaimed Dr. Sarah Sallon with the elation of a new mother, as each date, its skin slightly wrinkled, was plucked gently off its stem at a sunbaked kibbutz in southern Israel.They were tasty, too, with a fresh flavor that gave no hint of their two-millenium incubation period. The honey-blonde, semi-dry flesh had a fibrous, chewy texture and a subtle sweetness.These were the much-extolled but long-lost Judean dates, and the harvest this month was hailed as a modern miracle of science.
Hannah’s seed, which came from an ancient burial cave in Wadi el-Makkukh near Jericho, now in the West Bank, was carbon dated to between the first and fourth centuries B.C.E., becoming one of the oldest known seeds to have ever been germinated.
Ancient Judea was ideally placed between North Africa and Asia, along major trade routes, and the Romans, who traded all over the Mediterranean, could have brought western varieties with them to pollinate the older varieties from the east.“Putting it simply, what do we find?” Dr. Sallon said. “The story of ancient Israel and the Jewish people, of diasporas, trade routes and commerce throughout the Middle East.”
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