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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

According to botanical literature, Cupressus sempervirens L. had a wide distribution and was probably one of the main constituents of the forest in Israel during antiquity. This assumption is based on the adaptation of the tree to the ecological conditions of the Mediterranean region of Israel. Evidence collected from pollen grain analysis, wood remains from archaeological excavations, ancient literature, and descriptions by pilgrims and travellers led to different conclusions. During antiquity, the occurrence of C. sempervirens in Israel was rare, and it is likely that cypress wood was imported to be used as timber for construction purposes. Most of the C. sempervirens remains were found in the Negev, the Dead Sea area, and the Jordan Valley, regions where this species could not have grown naturally. The number of C. sempervirens samples found in the Mediterranean region was negligible. These samples may be evidence of commerce and governmental construction rather than of the use of local cypress timber.

Affiliations: 1: Botanical Laboratories, Institute of Archaeology ; 2: Department of Geography, Tel Aviv University


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