Peter Warnock

Four hundred times larger than life. Readers who suffer from allergies may feel their noses begin to twitch at the mere sight of this magnified pollen. This pollen is from the mint family, which includes hyssop, thyme, marjoram, sage and mint.

The pollen was recovered in decayed fecal remains beneath one of the City of David toilets. Their presence there, together with the relative absence of pollen from cultivated grasses such as wheat and barley, led the excavators to surmise that the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. impaired the inhabitants’ ability to gather cultivated foods and forced them to forage for freegrowing plants.