Posts Tagged ‘ancient seeds’

This is a slice through image of horsegram seed.
Diamond Light Source

Original Article:


Scientists from UCL have used the UK’s synchrotron facility, Diamond Light Source, to document for the first time the rate of evolution of seed coat thinning, a major marker of crop domestication, from archaeological remains.

Source: Synchrotron light used to show human domestication of seeds from 2000 BC


Read Full Post »


Topic: Ancient Seed

It was a bit like shades of Jurassic Park — but this was about plants, not animals. And it was real — nothing fictional about this.

During excavations by the late Ehud Netzer in 1973 at the site of Herod the Great’s fortified mountaintop palace at Masada in Israel, archeologists uncovered a cache of seeds stowed away in a clay jar about 2,000 years ago. For decades, the ancient seeds were stored in a drawer at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University. But in 2005, in collaboration with the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey received one of them for an experimental planting.

“When we asked if we could try and grow some of them, they said, ‘You’re mad,’ but they gave us three seeds,” she said. “Lotus seeds over 1,000 years old have been sprouted, and I realized that no one had done any similar work with dates, so why not give it our best shot — and we were rewarded.”*

Solowey planted a seed in a pot at Kibbutz Ketura in January, immediately after receiving them. Since then, it has sprouted into a seedling, produced its first blossom in 2011, and now flourishes as a young date palm. It has been nick-named “Methuselah”, after the oldest person who ever lived, according to the biblical account.

At first blush, it appears no different than thousands of other modern date palms growing throughout Israel and the Middle East. But looking a little closer, one sees a distinction. “The only difference between this date seedling and any other date seedlings I’ve seen come up is the length of the third leaf. This is very unusual,” Solowey said.*

The fruit of this ancient tree, the Judean date, has been recorded in ancient literature as having valuable properties. It is said to have been an aphrodisiac, a contraceptive, and a cure for diseases such as cancer, malaria and toothaches. For Christianity, the palm has been regarded as a symbol of peace, the ancient Hebrews referred to it as a “tree of life” for its food properties and shade, and Arabic populations have used it for a vast variety of purposes. Upon entering Judea, the Romans observed prolific forests or groves in the Jordan River valley, extending from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. It was a major element of the area’s economy. Interestingly, they called the date palm “the date-bearing phoenix”, as it never seemed to die and was able to flourish in the desert where other plants could not survive.

Solowey and colleagues hope to be able to cross-breed the plant with other closley related date palm types.

Original article:

popular archaeology
October7, 2013

Read Full Post »

Topic Fruit Trees

Unknown Fruit Tree

Recent research on seed samples gathered over the years at medieval archaeological sites in the historic old quarter of Hondarribia, has that these are the remains of the oldest fruit trees in Southern Europe.

The town of Hondarribia, lies on the coast of the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, Spain.

The research was undertaken by the archaeobiology research team from the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) under the direction of Doctor Leonor Peña-Chocarro, with the financial aid of the Gipuzkoa Provincial Government.

,,This research has enabled the recording of numerous fleshy fruits such as plums of various types, cherries, peaches, sloes, grapes, apples, figs, quince and medlar and, in a token manner, olives. The overall collection of nuts is interesting, significant being the presence of hazel nuts, acorns, walnuts, pine kernels and, sporadically, beechnuts. As regards cereals, wheat, barley and oats have been identified. Also of particular important are the various seeds of the bottle (or calabash) gourd, a species of water pumpkin, very rarely recorded in archaeological contexts.

While the overall results can be considered relevant for knowledge about nutrition in the Middle Ages, the most striking part refers to the remains of quince and medlar found, being species hitherto unknown in the archaeobotanical register of the Iberian Peninsula.

This area has produced one of the best databases of archaeological seeds within the Spanish State, or indeed in Europe, thanks to the fact that, in many of its excavations, layers of terrain that had been flooded have conserved organic matter due to saturation of water.

Original article:


by Stephen Russell


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: