Tree Grown From 2,000-Year-Old Seed Has Reproduced

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.” Psalm 91:12 (NIV)

In 2005, a team of researchers first tried to germinate a 2,000-year-old seed found in 1963 by archaeologists from the ancient fortress of Masada.

Judean Date Palm Seed

2,000-year-old date seed. Photo Credit: Guy Eisner

It sprouted and the researchers named this Judean date palm Methuselah, after the oldest man in the Bible who lived to the age of 969 (Genesis 5:27). Methuselah is a father. It has been successfully pollinated with another date palm, which is producing offspring.


Methuselah in 2019. Photo Credit: Arava Institute

Date palms once flourished in the valley from the Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south. They were an important source of food, shelter, and medicine. Over the centuries, the Judean palm was decimated by years of war and foreign conquest. Some 800 years ago, the Crusaders destroyed the last remaining specimens, rendering the plant extinct.

The seeds of Judean date palm turned out to have remarkable longevity. Over the following years, the scientists were also successful at growing six more trees from seeds found mostly from Masada or Qumran where the world-renowned Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed. Scientists pointed out that the Dead Sea, being the lowest point on Earth, has a special thick atmospheric layer that protect the seeds from harmful cosmic radiation.

Qumran National Park

Qumran National Park

You can see these amazing Judean date palms at Arava Institute Research Park in Kibbutz Ketura.

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