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Fossilized pollen unlocks secrets of ancient royal garden
Date:2/16/2012

Researchers have long been fascinated by the secrets of Ramat Rahel, located on a hilltop above modern-day Jerusalem. The site of the only known palace dating back to the kingdom of Biblical Judah, digs have also revealed a luxurious ancient garden. Since excavators discovered the garden with its advanced irrigation system, they could only imagine what the original garden might have looked like in full bloom until now.

Using a unique technique for separating fossilized pollen from the layers of plaster found in the garden's waterways, researchers fromTel Aviv University's Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology have now been able to identify what grew in the ancient royal gardens of Ramat Rahel. And based on the garden's archaeological clues, they have been able to reconstruct the lay-out of the garden.

According to Prof. Oded Lipschits, Dr. Yuval Gadot, and Dr. Dafna Langgut, the garden featured the expected local vegetation such as common fig and grapevine, but also included a bevy of exotic plants such as citronand Persian walnut trees. The citron, which apparently emigrated from India via Persia,made its first appearance in the modern-day Middle East in Ramat Rahel's royal garden.

Plastered pools a "pollen trap"

One of the unique features of Ramat Rahel's garden is its advanced irrigation system. The scope of the garden is even more impressive, says Dr. Gadot, because there was no permanent water source at the site. Rainwater was efficiently collected and distributed throughout the garden with aesthetic water installations that included pools, underground channels, tunnels, and gutters.

These installations finally allowed researchers to uncover what they had been searching for. Early attempts to remove pollen grains from the site's soil in order to reconstruct the botanical components of the garden were unfruitful because the pollen had oxidized. But after noticing that the channels and poo
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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