Research ArticlePLANT SCIENCES

Origins and insights into the historic Judean date palm based on genetic analysis of germinated ancient seeds and morphometric studies

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Science Advances  05 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 6, eaax0384
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0384

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  • RE: Lazarus Dates from the Dead Sea Area?

    I am uncomfortable with the radiocarbon determinations on the Lazarus dates discussed in this article. I have no conflicts of interest that I am aware of.

    First, let us consider the Phoenix seeds themselves. Perhaps we should consider “Judean Date” as a geographic description rather than a landrace, cultivar, or brand. Genetic analysis in this paper demonstrated that Uriel and Boaz are closest to the modern varieties Mahalbit, Najda, and Jihel. Methuselah and Adam are most similar to Fard types. Jonah is close to Medjool; Hannah is like Khastawi and Ami Hajj; and Judith may be related to Khyara. Rather than comparing the size measurements of all “Ancient” dates to all “Cultivated” varieties it might be most appropriate to compare the prehistoric seeds from one locality to its closest modern analogs. A quick comparison of seed length and weight to a dozen Medjool seeds from my local store revealed that only A3, A5, and A7 (Qumran Cave 37, Q37); A14 and A26 (Wadi Makukh 1, WM1); and A18 (Wadi Makukh 24, WM24) are significantly larger. On the other hand A13 (Q37) and A20 (WM3) were smaller. Medjool was first grown in California in 1912, but it is described in texts dating to the 17th century (Wright 2016). Sizes and weights are not reported for the Masada dates, but this would be easy to remedy by measuring a few other date seeds from the Masada collection, and this analysis would be non-destructive.

    Next, let’s look at the provenance and radiocarbon dates on...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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