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RETRACTED CHAPTER: Apharsemon, Myrrh and Olibanum: Ancient Medical Plants

Part of the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the World book series (MAPW,volume 2)

Abstract

Among the most reputed ancient medical plants were the: olibanum – frankincense, derived from Boswellia spp., myrrh, derived from Commiphoras spp., both from southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa, and apharsemon of Judea, derived from Commiphora gileadensis that had its origin also in these territories. The demand for these medical plants that were also important spices was met by scarce and limited sources of supply. The incense trade and trade routes were developed to carry this precious cargo over long distances through many countries to the important foreign markets of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The export of the frankincense and myrrh made Arabia extremely wealthy, so much so that Theophrastus, Strabo, and Pliny all referred to it as Felix (fortunate) Arabia. At present, this export hardly exists, and the spice trade has declined to around 1,500 t, coming mainly from Somalia; both Yemen and Saudi Arabia import rather than export these frankincense and myrrh.

Apharsemon, known also as the Judaean balsam, grew only around the Dead Sea Basin in antiquity and achieved fame by its highly reputed aroma and medical properties but has been extinct in this area for many centuries. The resin of this crop was sold, by weight, at a price twice that of gold, the highest price ever paid for an agricultural commodity. This crop was an important source of income for the many rulers of ancient Judea; the farmers’ guild that produced the apharsemon survived over 1,000 years. Currently there is interest in a revival based on related plants of similar origin. These three ancient plants now are under investigation in many countries for medicinal uses. Many publications and patents on these three plants appeared in recent years.

Keywords

  • Commiphora gileadensis
  • Boswellia spp.
  • Commiphora spp.
  • Judaean balsam
  • Frankincense
  • Spice trade
  • Traditional medicine
  • Modern medicine
  • Current research

After publication of this chapter, it was brought to the Editors’ attention that there were potentially several serious concerns regarding questions of originality

The Editors, assisted by the Publisher, have conducted an in-depth investigation in accordance with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines.

The chapter: Apharsemon, Myrrh and Olibanum: Ancient Medical Plants appearing in: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the Middle-East, 2014, pp 67–150, has been retracted because it contains a significant amount of material from a previously published manuscript without acknowledging the source. The previously published manuscript that has been duplicated in this chapter is: 1. Spices: Frankincense, Myrrh, and Balm of Gilead: Ancient Spices of Southern Arabia and Judea (Shimshon Ben-Yehoshua, Carole Borowitz, and Lumír Ondøej Hanus) Horticulture Reviews Volume 39, DOI: 10.1002/9781118100592.ch1. Copyright © 2012 Wiley-Blackwell.

An erratum to this chapter can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9276-9_18

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Correspondence to Shimshon Ben-Yehoshua .

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Ben-Yehoshua, S., Hanuš, L.O. (2014). RETRACTED CHAPTER: Apharsemon, Myrrh and Olibanum: Ancient Medical Plants. In: Yaniv, Z., Dudai, N. (eds) Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the Middle-East. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the World, vol 2. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9276-9_6

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