Archaeologists digging in western Japan have excavated what they believe to be the oldest remains of a melon ever found, an official said Friday.
Based on a radiocarbon analysis, researchers estimate the half-rounded piece of fruit to be about 2,100 years old, said Shuji Yamazaki, a local official in the city of Moriyama.
The remains are believed to be the oldest of a melon that still has flesh on the rind, Yamazaki said.
Previously, the oldest such find was believed to be remains found in China that date back to the fourth century A.D., according to local media reports.
The melon might have been so well-preserved because it was in a vacuum-packed state in a wet layer below the ground, an environment hostile to microorganisms that might otherwise have broken down the remains, Yamazaki said.
Melon seeds have been often found in archaeological digs around the country, but researchers rarely find the remains of melon flesh, Yamazaki said.
Moriyama is about 330 kilometers (205 miles) southwest of Tokyo.