From Gardens Long Gone, Now Revived

These dates sprouted from 2,000-year-old seeds retrieved from archaeological sites in the Judean wilderness. Dan Balilty for The New York Times

While we are on the topic of gardens, let’s continue on a roll:

Aided by Modern Ingenuity, a Taste of Ancient Judean Dates

The harvest of the much-extolled but long-lost Judean dates was something of a scientific miracle. The fruit sprouted from seeds 2,000 years old.

The proud father Methuselah, grown from ancient seeds, at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava desert, Israel. Dan Balilty for The New York Times

KETURA, Israel — 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.

Dr. Sallon, who researches natural medicine, had joined up with Elaine Solowey, an expert on arid agriculture, to find and germinate the ancient seeds. This harvesting of the fruit, celebrated in a small ceremony earlier this month at Kibbutz Ketura, was the culmination of their 15-year quest…

Read the whole article here.

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