Flora Of The Pharohs

There were two plants that were prevalent in Ancient Egypt. They were an important part of the lives of early Egyptians and can be seen symbolized in much of their early art in tombs and temples.

Papyrus is evident as far back as the Predynastic Period in Egypt c. 6000-c.3150 BCE and continued into Roman Egypt 30BCE – 640 CE.  It grew in abundance in the flooded Nile River Valley and in the Egyptian Delta.  Stalks reached up to 16 feet tall ending in small brown flowers.  Papyrus of Egypt is usually ass0ciated with paper.  In fact the English word for paper comes from papyrus.

The Egytians used papyrus for food, rope, sandals, boxes, baskets, mats, window shades, to make dolls, as amulets, and even to make small fishing boats.

The plant can be seen etched in stone on temples,  symbolizing  life and eternity for Egyptian afterlife.

Papyrus still exists in Egypt today but in greatly reduced numbers.

Lotus (also called water lily) was one of the most important religious Egyptian symbols in anceint Egypt. Lotus flowers open in the morning and close at night thus becoming  symbols of rebirth, regeneration and the sun.

Lotuses grew in the muddy swamps along the Egyptian River.  In ancient Egypt, there were both blue and white lotus. The blue lotus  was the most commonly portrayed in the temples and tombs. The Egyptians used the lotus flower in perfumes, cosmetics, medicines, garlands, in temple rituals,  and as an aphrodisiac.

Papyrus was originally the symbol of Upper Egypt and the Lotus was the symbol of Lower Egypt. Pictures of the lotus and Papyrus growing together and inter-wound with each other became a symbol of the bringing together of the two kingdoms.

Agriculture was very important to ancient Egyptians. There is evidence that they grew flowers such as roses, chrysanthemum, anemone, poppies and daisies. They grew cannabis for medicinal purposes, flax to make cloth, Einkorn wheat to make beer and bread. There is also evidence of garlic, onion, radish, melon, lettuce, parsely, cow pea, fava bean and chick pea.

There is evidence of irrigation technology as far back as 1900 EBC. The oldest documented gardens in the world existed in Egypt.

Today you can visit El Nabatat Island or  Kitchener’s Island, a small oval-shaped island in the Nile at Aswan. The Island was given to Lord Horatio Kitchener in 1890 for his part in the Sudanese campaigns. Lord Kitchener was a keen gardener who turned the island into a botanical garden, containing a collection of hundreds of species of trees and exotic birds from around the world.


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