A team of Spanish archaeologists has exhumed the remains of a funerary garden in the necropolis of Abu El Naga Draa in Egypt.
Plants, flowers and fruit trees accompanied the ancient Egyptians in their final journey to the afterlife as depicted by wall representations and paintings (see below). For the first time, Spanish researchers have just discovered one of these funeral gardens in the necropolis of Abu el Naga Draa, near Luxor, the ancient Thebes, in Egypt. “ Never has such a funeral garden been uncovered,“ enthuses José Manuel Galan, director of the Djehuty project mission, which began in 2002.
Dated about 3900 years old, the miniature orchard was at the entrance of a tomb of the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BC). Large 3m by 2m, plants and flowers were grown in compartments of about 30 centimeters of sides. Thin layers of silt have been found in these small quadrilaterals, as well as the remains of roots preserved for nearly 4000 years.
Sycamores and palm trees often appeared in the mural frescoes. Perhaps the Spanish researchers will find traces among the roots cleared. We know that palm, sycamore or Persea – a plant of the avocado family – were associated with the resurrection, or that plants like lettuce were linked to fertility, and therefore life.
Small ceramic containers have also been found and some fruits were being preserved, probably produced by this garden as offerings.
„These cultivated gardens had symbolic significance, bringing information about religious beliefs and practices, as well as the culture of the society of the time, when Thebes had become the first capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt“ Added José Manuel Galan, of the Higher Council of Scientific Research of Spain (CSIC). A rare and precious testimony of these vegetable landscapes of the afterlife, symbol of the cycle of life and resurrection so dear to the ancient Egyptians.
For centuries the inhabitants of the Nile also decorated the interior of the tombs with garlands of flowers, chamomiles, fruits, poppies and dandelions, just as they decorated the mummies, but also the sarcophagi of the pharaohs and Illustrious people. Up to scales of onions sometimes placed on the eyelids, or placed between the toes.
The archaeologists found flowers of whole water lilies under the Ramses II bands, at other times they were centaurae, which were said to have been brought from Syria by Tuthmosis around 1500 BCE, They called the Pharaoh „The gardener“.