Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Searching for the argun palm

A New Scientist article about the search for the argun palm tree whose fruits are known from tombs, but which seemed to have vanished from Egypt: "When Giuseppe Passalacqua went to Egypt in the 1820s his plan was to do a bit of horse-trading. He soon discovered a more lucrative line of work - excavating ancient tombs and selling off their contents. While Passalacqua found many priceless treasures, unlike most tomb-robbers he also made off with the more mundane. If something could be carried off, it was - right down to the dried-up offerings left to feed the ancients in the afterlife. Among these were some strange shrivelled fruits that have posed a series of puzzles ever since. They came from some sort of palm tree, but not one anyone recognised. Had the tree vanished along with the pharaohs?"

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