Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The inner fruit of what experts believe is the world's oldest melon, dating back about 2,100 years, has been excavated from the Shimonogo ruins in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, the Shimonogo Municipal Board of Education announced Thursday.
The fruit, measuring 10.5 centimeters, was discovered about one meter underground in the Shimonogo settlement, which was surrounded by moats during the Yayoi period (ca 300 B.C.-ca A.D. 300). The surface of the melon is discolored dark brown. Buried in moisture-rich soil that acted as a vacuum seal, the melon segment was kept from contact with the atmosphere and was able to preserve its inner fruit.
The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto identified the age of the fruit based on radiocarbon dating. The melon, native to Africa, came to Japan via the Middle East and India. The oldest melon fruit previously discovered was one in China that dated back to the fourth century.