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2,000-Year-Old Seeds Sprout Into Tomato Plants

February 27, 1985

PEKING (AP) _ Some 2,000-year-old seeds taken from an ancient tomb in central China have stunned archaelogists and sprouted into plants bearing tomatoes, a Chinese newsaper reported today.

A team exploring a Han Dynasty tomb in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in 1983 found several carbonized objects that appeared to be fruits and nuts, the English-language China Daily said.

The team covered the mysterious objects with boiled and sterilized blankets. ″A month later, they lifted the blankets to discover - to their astonishment - that the remains had germinated, producing about 40 green buds,″ the paper said.

The plants continued to grow and bore fruit. ″At first, the fruit looked like date, then it gradually turned red and grew into an oval shape fruit as big as an egg,″ the paper said.

″Upon close examination, experts concluded that the fruit was definitely a tomato,″ it said, noting that the discovery has stirred great interest among archaeologists and biologists.

It said there was a debate as to whether the seeds actually dated from the Han Dynasty, but added, ″The humble tomato may take a new place in Chinese history.″

Previous theories held that tomatoes were not native to China but were imported in the last century from South America.

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