Barry Hofstetter wrote:Apart from an ancient text describing the actual processes involved, I doubt that anyone knows the answer to this.
Frescoes, mosaics, physical remains in very dry dig sites, and modern practices in non-packaging cultures are all possible sources that might contribute to an understanding of the first question. I don't know what the morphological element -υλη contributes to our understanding here, and the singularin the LXX text quotes leaves me a little surprised.
The issues raised in the second could be approached through archeological evidence for an answer, but the constitution (the mode of constituting) the cakes would not be so easily depicted in art. Conservation practices in pre-mechanised societies could also suggest how humans have worked with food stuffs considering their natural properties. If what holds for the μέρος-μέλος pair also holds for the related word μοῖρα, then Longus' use of μοῖρα may suggest a a lack of distinction of parts. If it is not related, then the "lot" sense, might mean little more than "the part which was for him", without describing its internal quality. Not using κομμάτιον may suggest that the παλάθη was not so dense that it needed to be cut, or it may not.
The third question that I didn't ask, viz. "What other fruits could be make into a παλάθη?" both could be asked, and perhaps doesn't need to be asked. Herodotus taken together with the LXX shows that the παλάθη is not limited to just one fruit. In some ways that is enough to give definition to the LSJ entry. If I hadn't looked up the references in LSJ, and asked this 3rd question, then the statements you make about doubt could equally be applied to it too.
As an aside, to comment on the cultural assuptions of (reasonable) doubt, it seems that it is your expectation that if you can create sufficient doubt then that carries some culturally endorsed credibility as a proof that something is wong or not credible. I've seen a similar phenomenon in other presentations of ideas too, when someone says something like, "and that might be all we ever know" at the end of a point they make. Effectively, they give themselves the last word without there being any reason for that being the case. I find the practice slightly amusing: slightly annoying.