Gardens of ancient Egypt – Wikipedia

A rectangular fish pond with ducks and lotuses planted in a circular pattern with palms and fruit trees, in a mural from the Nebamun Tomb, Thebes, Eighteenth Dynasty

the Gardens of ancient Egypt It may have started with simple fruit orchards and vegetable gardens irrigated by the waters of the Nile. As the country gradually grew richer, these gardens evolved into pleasure gardens filled with flowers, ponds, fruit valleys, and shade trees. Temples, palaces, and private residences all had their own gardens, and examples of gardens were sometimes placed in tombs so that their owners could enjoy them in their afterlife.[1]


The history and nature of gardens in ancient Egypt, like all aspects of Egyptian life, depended on the Nile River, and the network of canals that drew water from it. Water was lifted from the Nile in leather buckets and carried on shoulders to gardens, and then, starting around the 14th century BCE, was lifted from wells by levers with counterweights called shaduf in Arabic. The first gardens consisted of squared farm ponds with earthen walls, so that water could seep into the soil instead of being lost. Gardens belonging to temples or residences. Secular gardens were located near rivers or canals and were mainly used to grow vegetables. Beginning in the New Kingdom, gardens were attached to more luxurious residences and were sometimes surrounded by walls. The temple gardens were used to grow some vegetables in the ceremonies.

Palace gardens[edit]

Palace gardens first appeared in Egypt before the Middle Empire (1668-2035). These gardens were very large in size, and were designed in geometric patterns. The ponds of the palace gardens were huge and numerous. In the second millennium BC, the pond in King Sneferu’s garden was large enough to accommodate the boats rowed by twenty oarsmen.

The rulers of ancient Egypt, such as Queen Hatshepsut (1503-1482 BC) and Ramesses III (1198-1166 BC), used pots to bring back to Egypt new species of trees and flowers discovered during their conquests in Libya, Syria and Cyrene. .[2]

Pleasure parks[edit]

Beginning in the New Kingdom, pleasure gardens became a common feature of luxury residences. According to the drawings found in the Theban tombs of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1552-1296 BC), the gardens of that time had a standard layout. They had a pond, usually rectangular, in the middle, filled with colorful fish, with lotuses in the water and flowers around the edges. Around the pond were successive rows of trees, including sycamores, palms, and pomegranates, alternating with flower beds. The edges of the water basins were sloping, and there was a staircase at the bottom so that gardeners could collect water for irrigation.[3]

The pond was often surrounded by walls or pillars that supported grapevines. The walls and columns are decorated with colorful paintings of people, animals and plants such as poppies and roses.

Temple gardens[edit]

The Gardens of Amun from the Temple of Karnak, mural in the tomb of Nekh, the chief gardener, early 14th century BC. (Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels)

Temples often had extensive gardens. The Temple of Amun at Karnak had twenty-six kitchen gardens, besides a very early botanical garden, which, according to the inscription, contained “all kinds of beautiful flowers and exotic plants found in the Divine Land conquered by His Majesty.”[4]

The hymns painted on the walls of the tombs show that religious ceremonies centered on the cycles of nature and the change of seasons. Temple gardens often contained rows of fig trees, sycamores (the sacred tree of the goddess Hathor), tamarisk, willow, or palm trees. The rows of trees sometimes extend for several kilometres, connecting several temples. The temples themselves had areas planted with trees. When rows of trees were planted away from the river, wells had to be dug ten meters deep to reach the irrigation water. During the reign of Amenophis III, some temples were dedicated to a goddess in the form of a tree, with a trunk of a body and branches of two arms. It is believed that this goddess carries water to the dead to quench their thirst.[5]

Temple gardens were often the homes of animals sacred to the gods, such as ibis and baboons. Flowers were a part of all religious ceremonies during the time of the god Amun. These gardens also produced medicinal herbs and spices such as cumin, marjoram, anise, and coriander.[6]

funeral gardens[edit]

Funerary garden model, dating back to the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt, circa 1998-2009 BC. Made of painted wood and gesso, originally from Thebes.

Funerary gardens were miniature versions of home gardens that were placed in tombs. They usually had a small square house or pavilion with wooden pillars, surrounded by a wall, and within the wall was a basin surrounded by a row of trees. The house was like the stalls in the gardens, where the owner was playing checkers or relaxing. The dead were traditionally surrounded by things they would enjoy in life, and they were expected to continue to enjoy their gardens in their afterlife.[7] One tomb inscription reads: “You promenade on the bank of your beautiful pond, and your heart rejoices in your trees, and refreshes under your sycamore, and your heart is satisfied with the waters of your wells which you have dug so that they will last forever.”[8]

Trees and plants in the Egyptian garden[edit]

Trees were used in gardens for fruit production and for shade. Nineteen different types of trees are found in the Gardens of Ineni, the architect of Pharaoh Thutmose I (1504-1492 BC). Tamarisk, acacia, and willow trees with pink flowers were common in the gardens. sycamore (Ficus cicomurus) And tamarisk trees were sometimes planted in front of temples, as they were in the Temple of Nebhitra from the eleventh century BC.

The ancient Egyptians cultivated Ficus cicomurus From pre-dynastic times, and in terms of quantity since the beginning of the third millennium BC. It is believed to be the ancient Egyptian tree of life, which was planted on the threshold between life and death.[9] Zohary and Hopf note that “fruit and wood, and sometimes twigs, are richly represented in the tombs of the Early, Middle, and Late Kingdoms of Egypt.”[10] And some mummies’ boxes in Egypt are made from the wood of this tree.

The most common fruit trees were date palms, fig trees, and doum palms (Heaven Thibeca). The mustang tree was considered sacred, and was found in temple gardens and residential gardens. The pomegranate tree was introduced during the New Kingdom, and was highly valued for its fragrance and colour. Other fruits grown in the gardens were jujubes, olives, and peaches. Vegetables were grown for food or for ceremonies. Cos lettuce was considered sacred and was associated with Min, the god of reproduction, and was believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. The grapes were used to make raisins and wine. Tomb paintings show that vineyards were sometimes planted over pergolas to provide shade for the garden. Flowers were grown in gardens to make bouquets for decoration and for use in religious ceremonies. Common garden flowers were mandrakes, daisies, chrysanthemums, poppies, poppies, jasmine, and roses.

Egyptian basins and tubs were often decorated with white and blue lotus flowers (nymphaea cerulea) and with papyrus.

Ponds and pools[edit]

Ponds and pools were a common feature of the residential gardens of the rich and powerful in ancient Egypt, and appear in a number of tomb paintings. Sometimes, as in the garden of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, the pond was T-shaped, with part of the T connected to a river or canal. The water is usually lifted into the pond from the river by hand, or by using a shaduf. The fish were raised for food and ornamental ponds. It was also home to migratory waterfowl.

Flowers such as white and blue lotus were planted in ponds for decoration and celebrations, and papyrus is known to grow in Deir el-Bahari.[12] Later, during the Persian occupation of Egypt, the pink lotus flower was introduced.

Shade, color and smell[edit]

Shade was an important feature of the garden, provided by trees and grapevines supported between the columns. Describing these gardens, Shaw and Nicholson write: “The general effect was cool shade, heavy with the scent of flowers and trees. The gardens are thus one of the most common settings in Egyptian romances.”[12]

The Gardens of Amun in the Temple of Karnak, mural in the tomb of Nekh, the chief gardener, early 14th century BC

Gardening in ancient Egypt[edit]

Gardening in ancient Egypt was very hard work; The gardens required constant irrigation, with water being carried or lifted by hand, and weeding and care, including the artificial propagation of palm trees, required great skill. Great effort was also needed to prevent birds from eating the crops. Ingenious decoys have been set up to catch invading birds.[13]


  1. ^ coolon, Les Jardins, s. 103
  2. ^ IM Gallery, Ancient Egypt Garden, an article by Dr. Schmandt Beiserat, Eternal Egypt. Ondina Publications, 1978, p. 47.
  3. ^ Descroche-Noblecourt, Egyptian Art, p. 113
  4. ^ Quoted in Bardon, p. 97.
  5. ^ coolon, Les Jardins, s. 102.
  6. ^ Bardon, p. 102
  7. ^ c. Maspero, Studies of Egyptian Antiquities and Myths, Paris, The Egyptian Library, 1890, Volume Two, Page 221.
  8. ^ Huguenots, p. 170
  9. ^ “Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt”, Jan Assmann, David Lorton, translated by David Lorton, p.171, Cornell University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0801442419
  10. ^ Zohary and Hopf, p. 165
  11. ^ The medicinal properties of pomegranate are described in the Ebers Papyrus, a medical text dating from around 1550 BC.
  12. ^ a B Shaw and Nicholson, The British Museum’s Dictionary of Ancient Egypt.
  13. ^ Bardon, p. 97.


  • ian Shaw And Paul Nicholson, The British Museum’s Dictionary of Ancient EgyptBritish Museum Press, 1995.
  • Michelle Bardon, Les Jardins – Paysagistes – Jardiniers – The Poets. Robert Lafont Editions, 1998. (ISBN 2-221-06707-X)
  • Jan Assmann, David Lorton, “Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt”, translated by David Lorton, p. 171, Cornell University Press, 2005, ISBN 0801442419
  • Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf Domestication of plants in the ancient worldThird ed. (Oxford: University Press, 2000).
  • Jim Desroches-Noblecourt, Egyptian artPUF, Paris, 1962.
  • jc Huguenot, Le Jardin in Egypt anciennePeter Lang, Paris, 1989.

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