In January 2005, Israeli scientists germinated a 2,000-year-old date palm seed that was discovered 30 years ago at Masada — the barren mountain fortress in the Negev desert. Although the date palm tree that the Tanakh frequently mentions was extinct until now, it was prized in ancient times for its sweet fruit, ceremonial use, and medicinal qualities.
"Lotus seeds over 1,000 years old have been sprouted," says Elaine Solowey of Kibbutz Ketura, who is the botanist responsible for nurturing the ancient seed. "I realized that no one had done any similar work with dates, so why not give it our best shot — and we were rewarded."
As of August, the plant stood over 14 inches tall. Scientists hope that the tree will continue to survive, and that the secrets of the original date palm can soon be unlocked.