A recent study pertaining in part to the history of the olive trees situated within the Garden of Gethsemane indicates the trees can be dated to the middle of the 12th century, making them at least 900 years old. Moreover, it is quite possible that the trees are even more ancient than that because the dating only refers to the exposed part of the tree and not to its roots.
The scientific research, which was completed under the auscpices of the Custody of the Holy Land, began in 2009 and was publicized for the first time last Friday (October 19, 2012). The results also correspond to the the construction of the Basiilica of Gethsemane, built around 800 years, and during which time the olive trees may have been arranged or rearranged in the garden.
All eight trees possess the exact same genetic fingerprint, meaning that all have the same genotype and were likely derived from the cuttings of branches from the same single olive tree.
Custos Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, presented the results of the study along with Massimo Pazzini, dean of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem, professor Giovanni Gianfrate, project coordinator, agronomist and expert on the history of olive growing in the Mediterranean, and professor Antonio Cimato, coordinator of the scientific research, the first researcher of Tree and Timber Institute (Ivalsa)/CNR in Florence.
The custos noted the importance of these olives trees to Christians and highlighted the fact that they serve as a living testament to the Passion of Christ and to the Christian "roots" and ongoing presence in the Holy Land through the present day.
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Elisa L. Moed is the founder and CEO of Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.
Publication date: October 23, 2012