JUST TOO COOL: Judean date trees grown from 2000 year old seeds

Also for your Just Too Cool file, sent by a friend.

From Science Alert:

A Long-Lost Legendary Roman Fruit Tree Has Been Grown From 2,000-Year-Old Seeds

Scientists have cultivated plants from date palm seeds that languished in ancient ruins and caves for 2,000 years.

This remarkable feat confirms the long-term viability of the kernels once ensconced in succulent Judean dates, a fruit cultivar lost for centuries. The results make it an excellent candidate for studying the longevity of plant seeds.

From those date palm saplings, the researchers have begun to unlock the secrets of the highly sophisticated cultivation practices that produced the dates praised by Herodotus, Galen, and Pliny the Elder[I’m not sure what they had to compare them to, but I’d like to try what they thought was so good.]


In an ancient palace fortress built by King Herod the Great, and caves located in southern Israel between the Judean Hills and the Dead Sea, archaeologists retrieved hundreds of seeds from the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera).

Then, a team of scientists, led by Sarah Sallon of Hadassah Medical Organisation in Israel, sorted through this bounty.

They selected 34 seeds they thought were the most viable. One was separated out as a control; the remaining 33 were carefully soaked in water and fertiliser to encourage germination.

After this process, one more was found to be damaged, and was subsequently discarded; the remaining 32 seeds were planted.

Of these, six of the seeds successfully sprouted. They were given the names Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, Hannah and Adam. (A previous attempt by Sallon and colleagues published in 2008 produced a single sapling; it was named Methuselah.)

Seedlings in hand, the scientists could now run tests and analyses they couldn’t perform on seeds alone.

First, they collected fragments of the seed shells still clinging to the roots of the plants. These were perfect for radiocarbon dating – which confirmed the seeds date back to between 1,800 and 2,400 years ago.


Okay, I had a Jurrasic Park moment, but that’s pretty cool.

Speaking of dates… here’s a pre-prandial snack item.

Try cutting a medool date open, remove the pit, and stuff a little aged Manchego cheese into it. Pop it into the microwave for a 10+ seconds and then put some good salt on it.  Some people wrap bacon around the date stuffed with Manchego, but that’s a longer process… and not great for Fridays.  The salt helps in the absence of the bacon.

Or, Iberico instead of bacon.

Not all salt is the same, by the way.   For something like this, I’d preferfleur de selthough gray will do.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I want to eat some of the dates! I wonder how long it takes a date palm to mature.

  2. JustaSinner says:

    In my traipsing about SW Asia…dates from Yemen and olive oil from Syria. Definitely forbidden now!

  3. MrsAnchor says:

    Put me on the list to try those Dates! Incredible

    I’ll try your meatless Date recipe. That will certainly come in handy. Although I am partial to Goat Cheese stuffed Medjool with a slice of Prosciutto…

    If you have any for Deglet Noor Im all ears. They’re considerably less full of sugar and carbs which is great healthwise, but of course they don’t compare in flavor.

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