Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Extinct Biblical plant resurrected by scientists

Israel Today, August 16, 2005 -- Scientists have found some seeds from a date palm that has been extinct for almost 2,000 years and was famous in Biblical times. After trying to plant the seeds, they grew!

They found the 2000 year old seeds near the historic fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea, where 960 Jewish zealots chose suicide over capture by the Romans in 73 A.D. “We managed to get a few of these seeds, and we planted them, and some six or seven weeks later a bud appeared,” said Israeli scientists Dr. Sarah Sallon who works at the Louis Borick Natural Medicine Research Center in Jerusalem. She also said it is the oldest seed ever brought back to life.

“The sapling is now about 14 inches (36 centimeters) tall. If it survives, the team hopes to revive the Judean date palm praised in the Bible. ‘In antiquity, there was a very famous date of ancient Israel,’ Sallon said. ‘It was one of the most important exports of ancient Israel, it was on the coins, it was of extraordinary importance for the economy, for ceremonial reasons and also for medicinal reasons.’

"There are plenty of lush date palms in Israel today, but they are not the original tree from Biblical times. They were imported from California, grown from a strain originating in Iraq. Scientists believe the Judean date might have had very different properties than the modern variety. And they hope the medicines of the ancient past can be the remedies of the future.

"'The Judean date was used for all kinds of things from fertility, to aphrodisiacs, against infections, against tumors,’ Sallon said. ‘This is all part of the folk story.’

"‘A TIME TO PLANT’ (Eccl. 3:2) Dr. Sarah Sallon adds a new aspect to the restoration of Israel, a 2,000-year-old seed comes back to life.”


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