FOUND: Fruit-bowl From A 4,000-Year-Old Funeral Garden

The newly discovered funerary garden, complete with squares and tree trunks. (Photos via Ahram Online, courtesy of Spanish National Research Council)

Archaeologists have unearthed a perfectly preserved funerary garden at site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, including a bowl of fruit probably left as an offering at the foot of a tree over 4,000 years ago.

Yes, we’ve all been faced with an ‘ancient fruit-bowl’ situation. You know, when you buy a magnificent bunch of bananas, put them in a bowl, and before you’ve turned your back it’s all gone, well, off. But we’re not talking about that kind of ancient fruit-bowl. After 4,000 years, this one is still remarkably well preserved.

The discovery was made by Spanish archaeologists working at the Draa Abul Naga necropolis in Luxor, on the west bank of the River Nile – the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes – and provides an incredible glimpse into the funerary rites and gardening practices of the ancient city’s inhabitants.

One of the beautifully decorated stelae, also discovered during the excavation. (Photos via Ahram Online, courtesy of Spanish National Research Council)

According to a report in Ahram Online, the team found the garden inside the open courtyard of a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb dating to c.1500-1450 BC.

Measuring just 3m x 2m, the garden is divided into squares of about 30cm, each of which seems to have contained different kinds of plants and flowers.

Archaeologists excavating one of the garden squares, where they found traces of different flowers and plants. (Photos via Ahram Online, courtesy of Spanish National Research Council)

In the middle of the garden the archaeologists spotted two raised mounds that were probably used for the cultivation of a small tree or bush, while to the side, they also found the roots and the trunk of a 4,000 year-old small tree, preserved to a height of 30cm.

Right next to this tree trunk, the archaeologists found a bowl still brimming with dried dates and other fruits.

Dried dates and other fruits found in a bowl at the foot of one of the trees. (Photos via Ahram Online, courtesy of Spanish National Research Council)

The image of someone leaving the fruitbowl as an offering, tribute or sign of their affection is an easy one to picture, and according to the report, the tree, fruitbowl and funerary garden were likely all part of the funeral ceremony. Together provide a captivating insight into the funerary rites, and gardening practices, of the inhabitants of the ancient city of Thebes.

The excavation team, led by Dr Jose Galan from the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, has been working at the site for the last 16 years, but this is the first time such a garden has been found in the city.

According to Galan, the discovery provides archaeological confirmation of an aspect of ancient Egyptian culture and religion that had previously only been known through iconography.

H/T Ahram Online

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Written by Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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