Gethsemane olive branches are 900 years old but DNA older

Science investigating on Gospel trees; data on Terrasanta.net

19 October, 18:30

Gethsemane olive branches are 900 years old but DNA older Gethsemane olive branches are 900 years old but DNA older

(ANSAmed) - ROME, OCTOBER 19 - The trunk and branches of Gethsemane olive trees are 900 years old but their DNA suggests that they were born from a much older tree, according to the first results of a three-year research into the olive trees of the Gethsemane garden where Jesus, according to the Gospels, spent the last few hours before his arrest and crucifixion. The first findings of the research are available starting today on the website 'Terrasanta.net'.

For the first time, a group of researchers with Italy's national research council (CNR) and universities examined samples from the trunk of three of the eight olive trees on the mountain where the Passion of Christ started.

Results of the research indicated the three olive trees (the only ones on which it was technically possible to conduct the study) date back to the mid 12th century, said 'Terrasanta.net'.

However their 900-year-old age can be referred only to the part of the plant which is visible while the roots underground is certainly much older, researchers said. Also, DNA tests described the genetic profiles of all eight olive trees indicating they belong to the same genotype. According to the experts, all come from one adult tree, meaning that portion of branches of one exemplary were planted in Gethsemane with the same technique adopted by Palestinian gardeners. The Gospels refer to adult olive trees when Jesus was there and their presence was witnessed by pilgrims in the following centuries.

The results of the scientific research can be checked through history. Between 1150 and 1170, the Basilica of Gethsemane was re-built and probably, according to Terrasanta.net, the garden was renovated by recuperating the trees. Researchers believe one of them could have been the donor of today's olive trees although further research will be necessary to prove this.

In a press conference in Rome, father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the holy land, and professors Giovanni Gianfrate and Antonio Cimato illustrated the results of the first chapter of an investigation which could have surprising results. (ANSAmed)

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