Past distribution of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) in the mountains of Israel (Palestine)

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Abstract

It was widely accepted that, in the past, forests of Aleppo pine, Pinus halepensis ('Jerusalem pine' in Hebrew), were common in Israel-Palestine and covered vast areas of its mountains. However, an interdisciplinary research project, using botanical, historical and geographical evidence, shows a different picture. The pine is mentioned only once in the Bible, and rarely in other religious sources. Descriptions of pine forests, or even isolated stands, by pilgrims and travellers who visited the Holy Land up to and during the nineteenth century, are rare. Palynological investigations in the area do not reveal any significant amounts of pine pollen except for the twentieth century. Investigations of wood remains from archaeological excavations show that Aleppo pine was rather rare, and constituted only a minute percentage of the wood assemblage. It can therefore be assumed quite safely that the Aleppo pine, which covered in the 1980s about 50% of the planted forests of Israel, was rare in the native arboreal vegetation of Israel in the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-436
Number of pages10
JournalHolocene
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Aleppo pine
  • Dendroarchaeology
  • Historical evidence
  • Pollen grains
  • Travellers' reports.
  • Wood remains

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