Ehud Weiss

This paper reviews our current knowledge on Near-Eastern fruit tree domestication, and compares this to the data presented by Daniel Zohary and Pinhas Spiegel-Roy in their seminal paper “Beginnings of Fruit Growing in the Old World”, which was published in Science in 1975. In both papers, the data under consideration include discussion of archaeobotanical assemblages from representative sites across southwest Asia, as well as data provided by living plants – particularly by wild relatives of the crops concerned and molecular data of the crop plants and their wild relatives. On the one hand, it was found that many of Zohary and Spiegel-Roy's conclusions remain valid – the wild progenitors of domesticated fruit trees, olives, grapevine and dates were domesticated during the Chalcolithic period, and fig during the Early Bronze Age period. On the other hand, molecular data indicate that in both the olive and grapevine, genetic materials outside the Levant were later added to the domesticated stock, and that the center of domestication for grapes does not actually include Greece, but was actually only in the Levant; that figs were domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean, rather than all over the Mediterranean; and that Lower Mesopotamia is still a plausible center of date domestication, along with the southern Fertile Crescent oases.

Suembikya Frumin, Mitia Frumin and Ehud Weiss

Dr. Alexander Eig is a figure of major importance in the history of botany in Israel. This paper attempts to evaluate, for the first time, personal contacts that influenced his academic development. Archival research reveals that his meeting with one of the greatest plant researchers of the 20th century, N.I. Vavilov, in 1926 had a great impact upon him. It was Vavilov who stimulated the young Alexander Eig to undertake his first taxonomic work and write his first monograph. This article reproduces and discusses a newly discovered letter, written by Vavilov to Yitzhak Volcani, the head of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural History in Israel, under whose leadership Eig began his academic work. This document points to the existence of a mutual understanding and cooperation between Vavilov and Volcani. Furthermore, Vavilov’s letter explains why Eig’s academic work, and that of generations of Israeli botanists who followed in his footsteps, chartered the path it took.