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2,000-Year-Old Date Seeds Sprout in Israel

Friday, February 7, 2020

Israel Ancient SeedsJERUSALEM, ISRAEL—According to a report in The Guardian, six of the 32 ancient date seeds planted by Sarah Sallon of the Hadassah Medical Organization and her colleagues have germinated. Some of the seeds, which were all recovered from archaeological sites in the Judean desert, germinated within weeks of being planted. Others took nearly six months to sprout. Genetic analysis revealed that two of the plants are female and the other four are male. The oldest of the new plants date back to the first and fourth centuries B.C., while the youngest date to between the first and second centuries A.D. Sallon said the older seeds are genetically closer to present-day date varieties grown in the Arabian Gulf. The two female plants, she said, resemble modern Iraqi varieties, and may be linked to plants brought back to Judea by Jews exiled in Babylon in the late sixth century B.C. Three plants linked to date varieties found today in Morocco may have been imported from North Africa by the Romans, she added. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science Advances. To read about a first-millennium B.C. apple seed unearthed in Kazakhstan, go to "On the Origin of Apples," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2019.

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