Seeds found in the ancient fortress of Masada that date from the time of Christ have borne fruit in Israel.
Elaine Solowey, a botanist with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, has overseen the work to grow seeds from a variety of date palms that had become extinct.
“It took a lot of time and effort and persuasion when people said, “What do you want them for?”
“I said, ‘We want to grow them.’ And they said, ‘You’re mad,’” said Sallon, who directs the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
That was a feat because the variety of seeds grown in ancient Israel went extinct about 500 AD.
“We would like to have plantations of the Judean dates. We would like to bring it back into cultivation and give it to the world,” Solowey said.
Methuselah is now a tall tree that Solowey calls “that big boy,” according to the Times of Israel. But because the tree was male, it would not bear fruit.
What an incredible story! The resurrection of the Judean date palm after 2000 years (!!) thanks to its two “mothers” Dr Sarah Sallon & Dr Elaine Soloway 🙏🙏 #Israel #Methuselah 🌴https://t.co/n2fkb2ymle
— Annu Jalais, PhD অণু জালে 🌊🐅🌴 (@AnnuJal) June 27, 2021
Solowey has produced six more saplings. She named them Adam (after one of her six sons), Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith and Hannah.
Last year, Methuselah’s pollen fertilized Hannah’s flowers, producing 111 dates.
Yesterday, we held a ceremonial harvest of the fruit from our ancient date palms, which were grown from 2,000-year-old seeds. This year, we plan to offer some dates for sale at the Kibbutz Ketura guesthouse! pic.twitter.com/C4IgURzpay
— The Arava Institute (@AravaInstitute) August 24, 2021
Pollen from Methuselah, Adam and Jonah was used to fertilize Hannah’s flowers, the release said.
“They’re the size of the Medjool, but they’re dry and have a lovely honey after-taste,” Solowey said, adding, “If they’d tasted terrible, I don’t know what I would have done.”
According to carbon dating, the seed from which Hannah sprouted is 175 years older than the one used to grow Methuselah.
“We think [the seed] dates to between 30 and 65, and that her heritage is from a date brought back by the Jews who returned from the Babylonian Exile [in 539],” Solowey said.
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