Monday, October 14, 2013

Seeds Found in a 2,000 Year Old Clay Jar Give Life to Once Extinct Palm

The Methuselah date palm, 2012
Kibbutz Keturah, Israel
"Genetic analyses have shown that this tree is distinct from all known date palms, and scientists want to see if the ancient tree has any unique medicinal properties no longer found in today's date palm varieties." See blog post here

"For thousands of years, Judean date palm trees were one of the most recognizable and welcome sights for people living in the Middle East -- widely cultivated throughout the region for their sweet fruit, and for the cool shade they offered from the blazing desert sun...

Judean palm trees would come to serve as one of the kingdom's chief symbols of good fortune; King David named his daughter, Tamar, after the plant's name in Hebrew...

During excavations at the site of Herod the Great's palace in Israel in the early 1960's, archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout.

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