A group of scientists, led by Sarah Sallon of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel, have taken the first steps towards the revival of the legendary "Roman fruit". We are talking about the Jewish date palm, the most important fruit culture of ancient Rome, which was completely lost after the fall of the empire. Now, using seeds over 2, 000 years old, Israeli biologists have managed to obtain new sprouts of the plant, glorified in the writings of ancient historians.
Some of the seeds were found in the cellars of the fortress of Herod the Great, others in the caves between the Judean Hills and the Dead Sea. Of the hundreds of seeds, only 34 were recognized as promising, one was left for control, and another was discarded in the process. Of the 32 seeds soaked in water and fertilizer, only six sprouted, which received their own names: Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, Hannah and Adam.
The experiment began with the fact that scientists collected fragments of seed coats and, using radiocarbon dating, confirmed the age of the seeds: 1, 8-2, 4 thousand years. While the sprouts are small and are still far from the appearance of fruits, they are observed and samples are carefully taken to study the genetic code. The fact is that this fruit was made legendary by the selection, which was originally carried out by the Jews, and then consolidated by Roman gardeners. But its details have been lost and scientists have to carry out extensive work comparing the genome of ancient plants with other types of date palms.
Pliny the Elder, Strabo and Herodotus describe the "Roman fruit" as a large, very sweet and long-lasting fruit - so much so that it could be transported by carts throughout the vast empire. Indeed, the seeds found are 30% larger than modern ones, and the fact that they germinated after so much time indicates the vitality of the plant. Scientists are now eagerly awaiting the first fruits of the ancient palms, which will surely bring new amazing discoveries.