Balsamplanten ved Dødehavet

Balsam var ein ettertrakta og verdifull vare i Midt-Austen i bibelsk tid. Ikkje minst var balsamdyrkinga til Herodes den store nede ved Dødehavet berømt. Nå blir det meldt at nye forsøk med å dyrka balsam nettopp i dette området, ser ut til å lukkast.

Men først ein liten omveg til den første gongen balsam er nemnt i Bibelen, i historia om Josef og brørne. Då brørne ville bli kvitt Josef, selde dei han til handelsmenn i ein karavane som skulle til Egypt med gummi, balsam og harpiks (1. Mos 37,25).

Det er avisa Haaretz som skriv om moderne forsøk på å dyrka balsam ved Dødehavet:

After repeated failures, new effort to revive the legendary balsam plant shows promise

Balsam, once the source of the region’s most sought-after perfume, disappeared from the local ecosystem centuries ago.

Saplings of the balsam plant that have been cultivated in Kibbutz Ein Gedi’s botanical garden for the past two years are a first test of the possibility of bringing the legendary bush, which flourished in the Second Temple period, back to the Dead Sea region, two scholars told a Jerusalem audience yesterday.

(…)

The plant is mentioned dozens of times in ancient sources, from the Bible to the Talmud, as well as in Greek and Roman writings. The most prestigious perfume known in the ancient Near East was produced from it, and it was also known for its healing qualities.

The balsam plantations in the Dead Sea area were under direct royal control, and the methods of cultivation and production were a closely guarded secret and a powerful political tool. For example, the balsam groves in Jericho became a bone of contention between Cleopatra of Egypt and Herod the Great. During the Bar Kokhba Revolt, in the second century CE, Jewish fighters uprooted the plants so they would not be captured by the Romans.

(les meir)

(via BiblePlaces Blog)

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