Pollen trapped in the wall plaster of a Persian period palace has revealed what was growing in the Royal Garden. The most surprising find? Citron. The presence of this ornamental fruit represents its first recorded appearence in the southern Levant.
The ancient tell (mound) of Ramat Rahel sits on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It features an impressive residency and palatial garden that flourished during the seventh to fourth centuries BCE, when biblical Judah was under the hegemony of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires. Until recently, the garden’s flora has been a mystery, as standard archaeological procedures were unable to retrieve secure archaeobotanical remains. A unique method of extracting fossil pollen from ancient plaster has now enabled researchers to reconstruct the exact vegetation components of this royal Persian garden and for the first time to shed light on the cultural world of the inhabitants of the residence.