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2,000-Year-Old Seed from Ancient Masada Sprouts into "Tree of Life"

Matthew Kalman / Kathy Mauer, Aimee Herd reporting : Jun 17, 2005  San Francisco Chronicle

A seed which came out of an archaeological dig on Mt. Masada was cultivated and has sprouted, yielding 5 leaves and standing 14 inches high. Since carbon dating on a tiny portion of the seed revealed its age as being 2,000-years-old, the plant was nicknamed Methuselah, after the 900-year-old biblical character.

Ministry Planted on Jan. 25th of this year, Methuselah looks like any ordinary date-palm seedling, however it is the oldest seed known to produce a living young tree. The Judean date palm tree was said to have medicinal properties in its fruit and scientists are eager to discover its make-up.

The Judean tree is significant to Christians as a symbol of peace associated with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Because of the date palm's long, leafy branches and the protein found in its fruit, ancient Hebrews called the plant the "Tree of Life."

UCLA-trained botanist, Elaine Solowey said, "It's certainly the oldest tree seed that's ever been sprouted. Wheat seeds from pharaohs' tombs have been sprouted, but none of the plants have survived for very long. Before this, the oldest seed grown was a lotus from China, which was 1,200 years old," she said. "I'm very excited. I wasn't expecting anything to happen. I'm really interested in finding out what the DNA testing is going to show. I know that date seeds can stay alive for several decades. To find out that they can stay alive for millennia is astonishing."







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