Check out this stunning archeological find: archaeologists discovered the first-ever funerary garden in Luxor, Egypt recently.
The 4,000-year-old find was believed to have been planted with symbols of fertility and the resurrection of the dead.
The History Blog writes: “Egyptologists have known about these gardens from iconographic depictions on tomb walls and at the entrances to tombs, but this is the first time archaeological remains of a physical funerary garden have been found.”
This remarkable discovery was found on the Dra Abu el-Naga hill in Luxor, Egypt. The team of archeologists also found a bowl of dates, seeds, and other fruits believed to have been left as an offering.
Jose Manuel Galan, a research professor from the Spanish National Research Council, who leads the Djehuty Project, explained, “We knew of the possible existence of these gardens since they appear in illustrations both at the entrances to tombs as well as on tomb walls, where Egyptians would depict how they wanted their funerals to be.”
The find was located in a courtyard at the entrance of a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb and is estimated to be made during the Twelfth Dynasty, around 2000BCE. The garden has a grid of 30 beds, with two raised higher than the rest. At one time, each bed contained plants symbolic of the religious and cultural themes of that time. Researchers are currently trying to determine what exactly was planted there and the meaning behind each plant.
Galan explained: “The plants grown there would have had a symbolic meaning and may have played a role in funerary rituals. Therefore, the garden will also provide information about religious beliefs and practices as well as the culture and society at the time of the Twelfth Dynasty when Thebes became the capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt for the first time.”
He added, “We know that palm, sycamore, and Persea trees were associated with the deceased’s power of resurrection. Similarly, plants such as the lettuce had connotations with fertility and therefore a return to life.”
The work to determine those plants begins, as he noted, “Now we must wait to see what plants we can identify by analyzing the seeds we have collected. It is a spectacular and quite unique find which opens up multiple avenues of research.”
A small mud brick chapel was also found at the face of the tomb. Tombstones located there were dated later than the tomb and the garden, and believed to have been placed during the Thirteenth Dynasty, around 1800 BCE.
Galan further noted that: “These finds highlight the importance of the area around the Dra Abu el-Naga as a sacred center for a wide range of worship activities during the Middle Kingdom. This helps us understand the high density of tombs in later times as well as the religious symbolism that this area of the necropolis holds.”
The video shows the team at work uncovering the garden, the tomb wall paintings, and a simulation of what may have been planted there, including wild lettuces, flowers, and a small tree, each with symbolic significance.