Scientists Unlock the DNA of Ancient Barley Seeds from Masada

July 21 2016

Analyzing 6,000-year-old barley seeds found in a cavern in Masada, scientists have found evidence for the theory that the grain—mentioned frequently in the Hebrew Bible—was domesticated from wild strains in the Jordan valley. Ilan Ben Zion writes:

[The] seeds . . . have become the oldest plant genome to be sequenced, an international team of researchers announced. . . . The arid climate and precipitous cliff [near where they were found] left the grains preserved for millennia. Ehud Weiss of Bar-Ilan University, one of the heads of the study, [explained] that whereas most ancient kernels are found charred and [thus] useless for DNA study, those excavated from the cave on Masada . . . “looked almost alive, almost fresh.” . . .

Radiocarbon dating determined the seeds were 6,000 years old, grown several millennia after humans residing in the Fertile Crescent first domesticated grains such as barley and wheat around 10,000 years ago.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Near East, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Masada, Science

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict