Excavations at Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s West Bank unearthed an almost 4000-year-old funerary garden. The find is the first such garden ever to be found.
Thebes (now Luxor) became the capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt about 4000 years ago. The funeral garden was unearthed in an open courtyard at the entrance of a Middle Kingdom rock-cut tomb very probably from the 12th Dynasty, circa 2000 BC. So far only the possible existence of these gardens was known since they appeared in illustrations at the entrances to tombs and on tomb walls. The newly discovered garden is a small rectangular area, measuring 3 by 2 metres, raised half a meter off the ground and divided into 30 square centimetre spaces, distributed in rows of five or seven. In addition, next to the garden, remains of two planted trees were found.
The researchers believe that the small spaces may have contained different types of plants and flowers. The trees were planted in the centre of the plot. According to archaeologists this is the first time that a physical garden has ever been found, and it is therefore a case that archaeology can confirm what had been deduced from iconography. The plants grown there would have had a symbolic meaning and may have played a role in funerary rituals. In one corner, the researchers recovered a still upright tamarisk shrub complete with its roots and 30cm-long trunk, beside which was a bowl containing dates and other fruit which may have been given as an offering.
Next to the garden archaeologists unearthed a small mud-brick chapel with three stelae in its interior was also uncovered. They date to the Thirteenth Dynasty, around the year 1800 BC. One of them belongs to an individual named Renef-seneb, and the other to “the soldier” (or “citizen“) named “Khemenit, the son of the lady of the house, Idenu.” On each, a reference is made to Montu, a local god from ancient Thebes, and to the funerary gods Ptah, Sokar and Osiris.
(after The Djehuty Project, Popular Archaeology, Ahram Online & Egypt Independent)