While excavating in the Judean wilderness, archaeologists found hundreds of seeds from palm trees that grew in the arid region some 2,000 years ago. Dr. Sarah Sallon of the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center (NMRC) wondered if these old seeds could sprout. If successful, they would prove to be not only incredibly resilient but also informative, as they would bring an extinct tree back to life.
The Judean Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is known from historical accounts for its sweet, large fruit, which even had medicinal properties. It played a significant role in the Judean economy for about two millennia—at the least from the fifth century B.C.E. until the 11th century C.E.—but then it went extinct centuries ago.