Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/432

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HISTORICAL and religious interest has been responsible for many investigations and explorations in Palestine, but the country has still to receive an adequate study from the biological and agricultural standpoints. What we are pleased to describe as European civilization had its rise in western Asia and was based on the cultivation of plants indigenous in that region. The agriculture and agricultural plants of western Asia were brought to Europe in prehistoric times as a part of the equipment of the ancient Mediterranean civilization. To become familiar with the primitive stocks of our cultivated plants and the primitive agricultural arts that are still practised in this cradleland of civilization is quite as interesting as reconstructing its ruined cities or digging out its buried inscriptions. We have much more adequate knowledge of incidents of ancient history than we have of the underlying agricultural and social conditions.

Even among those who have urged the colonization of Palestine for reasons of philanthropy and national patriotism there has been rather tardy appreciation of the importance of scientific exploration and investigation of agricultural resources. It remained for American Jews who have relatively little interest in the colonization idea to undertake the investigation of the country from the broader motive of human welfare, and as a means of securing for American agriculture the advantages of better knowledge of the agriculture of western Asia, whence so many of our American crops have come. There is a special reason why this agricultural knowledge is likely to be much more valuable in the United States than in Europe, for we have in our Pacific coast and southwestern states enormous agricultural resources still undeveloped under natural conditions that are much more Asiatic than European. In other words, we have need to go back to Asia to get the remainder of the agricultural plants and agricultural knowledge that was not carried to northern Europe because the European conditions wore unfavorable. Thus the establishment of colonies of European Jews in Palestine has had the entirely unexpected result of opening the country to agricultural exploration in the interest of American agriculture.

The establishment of an agricultural experiment station in Palestine was announced in Science in 1909.[1] The director of this station,

  1. Fairchild, David, "An American Research Institution in Palestine. The Jewish Agricultural Experiment Station at Haifa," Science, N. S., 31: 376.