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HortScience

 Jules Janick
 Harry Paris

In the first century CE, two Roman agricultural writers, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), referred to proto-greenhouses (specularia) constructed for the Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE–37 CE) presumably adjacent to his palace, the Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri. Pliny stated in Historia Naturalis (Book 19, 23:64) that the specularia consisted of beds mounted on wheels that were moved into the sun, and on wintry days withdrawn under the cover of frames glazed with transparent stone (lapis specularis) to provide fruits of cucumis. According to Pliny, this was “a delicacy for which the Emperor Tiberius, had a remarkable partiality; in fact there was never a day on which he was not supplied it.” The cucumis fruits described by Columella and Pliny, long mistranslated as cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, were in fact long-fruited melons, Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group. They are known today as vegetable melons, snake melons, and faqqous, and were highly esteemed in Rome and ancient Israel.

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History of Controlled Environment Horticulture: Ancient Origins
57

 Jules Janick
 Harry Paris

History of Controlled Environment Horticulture: Ancient Origins

In the first century CE, two Roman agricultural writers, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), referred to proto-greenhouses (specularia) constructed for the Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE–37 CE) presumably adjacent to his palace, the Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri. Pliny stated in Historia Naturalis (Book 19, 23:64) that the specularia consisted of beds mounted on wheels that were moved into the sun, and on wintry days withdrawn under the cover of frames glazed with transparent stone (lapis specularis) to provide fruits of cucumis. According to Pliny, this was “a delicacy for which the Emperor Tiberius, had a remarkable partiality; in fact there was never a day on which he was not supplied it.” The cucumis fruits described by Columella and Pliny, long mistranslated as cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, were in fact long-fruited melons, Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group. They are known today as vegetable melons, snake melons, and faqqous, and were highly esteemed in Rome and ancient Israel.

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